[National Council of Churches] The National Council of Churches of the Churches of Christ in the USA and Creation Justice Ministries join in expressing their deep appreciation to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers for the historic decision to not grant an easement for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline through the contested site near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.
As previously planned, the pipeline would have transversed sovereign Sioux land considered by the Sioux to be sacred, and has already damaged tribal burial grounds. The pipeline would have been placed underneath the Missouri River, potentially polluting drinking water and endangering the health of millions downstream.
Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso said of the decision,“We are grateful to the Administration for this decision. The belief system that a company can take over indigenous land for profit can be traced back to the Doctrine of Discovery — 15th-century papal teachings which have historically been used to justify land theft, colonization, and genocide. Standing with the Standing Rock Sioux to defend their sacred land has been an important step by Christians to reject the Doctrine of Discovery and to rectify injustice. As Christians, we have a moral responsibility to stand with indigenous peoples to protect their sovereignty, and God’s creation.”
Creation Justice Ministries and the NCC celebrate the ways in which faith leaders have stood alongside the water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux in this struggle. Member communions of NCC and Creation Justice Ministries have sent delegations to stand in solidarity with the Sioux as they have strongly opposed the pipeline which would have run across their sacred lands. The organizations’ leaders hope this will be seen as a turning point in the troubled relationship Native Americans and Christians have often shared throughout history, that Christians will stand on the side of justice.
“This is an incredible development,” said NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler.“I believe the churches that stood with the Sioux made a difference. I’m deeply grateful for NCC member communions who saw Standing Rock as a place to stand for justice. Obviously, we hope this decision will not be reversed in the coming administration.”We join in celebrating this moment in which the words and actions of protest have been heard by our governmental leaders. We pray that additional strides toward justice and care for the environment will be spurred by the events of the past months at Standing Rock.