CONAM donates humanitarian aid to Standing Rock


By Danny Lybarger
Chair, IGRC Committee on Native American Ministries

The largest gathering of Native Americans from different tribal backgrounds in over a century is currently taking place in North Dakota.

The gathering there is not a powwow or a typical celebration but rather a gathering to pray and peacefully protest the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline which poses a serious threat to the drinking water supplies and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Reservation. In speaking with Mike Flowers director of the Spirit Lake Ministry Center (UMC) in North Dakota,

I discovered some facts that were not often mentioned in the news media. First was the fact that the pipeline was originally scheduled to cross the Missouri River near Bismarck, the state capital of North Dakota. Because of the possible threat to drinking water supplies, the pipeline route was changed to near the Standing Rock Reservation. On Friday, Sept. 2, the tribal government filed court documents identifying the area as home to significant Native artifacts and sacred sites. On Saturday, Sept. 3, bulldozers and other construction equipment destroyed burial and other sacred sites of the Standing Rock people.

For the Standing Rock Sioux the issues have a long and painful history with a path strewn with broken treaty after broken treaty. More than that, it is also very deeply spiritual issue. It has to do with being caretakers of Earth Mother. There is an old Cherokee proverb that is almost universal with all Native American cultures. “Earth Mother will treat you with love and respect in direct proportion to which you treat her with love and respect.” As the chairperson of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist, I have communicated to the Tribal Outreach office at Standing Rock that our prayers are with our brothers and sisters there for healing of Earth Mother and that we grieve with them over the loss of their burial grounds and other sacred sites.

On Thursday, Sept. 9 the CONAM held a special phone conference to discuss our response to the events at Standing Rock. The CONAM voted unanimously to donate $1,500 for relief aid for the protestors at Standing Rock to be dispersed through the Spirit Lake Ministry Center who will purchase supplies for the encampment at Standing Rock.

CONAM also discussed action steps that can be taken by local churches and individuals if they wish to show support:
1. Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200. You can leave a message stating your thoughts about this.

2. Sign the petition to the White House to Stop DAPL:

3. Donate to support the Standing Rock Sioux at:

4. Donate items from the Sacred Stone Camp Supply List:

5. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers' Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

6. Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense Fund:

7. Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme account:

8. Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit: (202) 761-5903

9. Sign other petitions asking President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here's one of the latest:

10. Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:
a. Lee Hanse 
Executive Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6455
b. Glenn Emery
Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6762
c. Michael (Cliff) Waters
Lead Analyst
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
1300 Main St.
Houston, Texas 77002
Telephone: (713) 989-2404
11. Relief Donations for Standing Rock can be made by sending donations to  the Spirit Lake Ministry Center, 3365 81st Ave NE, Sheyenne ND 58374
As I write these words the folks at Standing Rock are awaiting a judge's order. Regardless of the outcome the struggle for peace and justice there will continue on for sometime as will the need for prayer and financial support. The tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stated:
Our tribe has opposed the Dakota Access pipeline since we first learned about it in 2014. Although federal law requires the Corps of Engineers to consult with the tribe about its sovereign interests, permits for the project were approved and construction began without meaningful consultation. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation supported more protection of the tribe’s cultural heritage, but the Corps of Engineers and Energy Transfer Partners turned a blind eye to our rights. The first draft of the company’s assessment of the planned route through our treaty and ancestral lands did not even mention our tribe.

The Dakota Access pipeline was fast-tracked from Day 1 using the Nationwide Permit No. 12 process, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites. And unlike the better-known Keystone XL project, which was finally canceled by the Obama administration last year, the Dakota Access project does not cross an international border — the condition that mandated the more rigorous federal assessment of the Keystone pipeline’s economic justification and environmental impacts.

The Dakota Access route is only a few miles shorter than what was proposed for the Keystone project, yet the government’s environmental assessment addressed only the portion of the pipeline route that traverses federal land. Domestic projects of this magnitude should clearly be evaluated in their totality — but without closer scrutiny, the proposal breezed through the four state processes.

In recent weeks, the state has militarized my reservation, with road blocks and license-plate checks, low-flying aircraft and racial profiling of Indians. The local sheriff and the pipeline company have both called our protest “unlawful,” and Gov. Dalrymple has declared a state of emergency.

Archambault  has also stated:
Thousands of people, from members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, tribes across the nation and First Nations in Canada, to non-Native supporters in the United States and around the world, have stood in solidarity against the harm and destruction caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have stood side by side in peaceful prayer. The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water.

There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline. Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here. We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.


Related stories

United Methodists stand with Standing Rock
A message on Standing Rock from Bishop Bruce Ough