Jesuit Volunteers in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux
Communities and individuals around the world - including several in the UK - are uniting in prayer tomorrow in support of the indigenous people of Standing Rock. And members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) in the United States are physically standing by the Native Americans whose lives are being threatened by the proposed Dakota Access pipeline.
Writing on the Ignatian Solidarity Network website, Amanda Peters says that as a volunteer with the JVC, she has felt the call to engage in ecological justice. “Since August, when I began my year of service on the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, I have striven to educate myself and engage in social justice issues that affect the tribe and indigenous peoples as a whole,” she wrote. “In mid-November, my intentions manifested into action, as my St Xavier JV community and the Ashland JV community headed to Standing Rock. The experience led me to further contemplate the immediate necessity of ecological justice as well as navigate my place as a Native ally.”
The Dakota Access project is a 1,100-mile pipeline that would take oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. There are concerns that the pipeline could contaminate the drinking water of Standing Rock Sioux’s community at Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The pipeline would cross the Missouri river, the tribe’s main source of drinking water, and pass close to the tribal reservation.
Neglect for Native rights
According to Amanda, hundreds have been gathered in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline for the past nine months, fighting against the ecological risks of the pipeline, as well as the oil company’s neglect for Native rights and autonomy surrounding the construction. On their arrival, they went on a prayer march. “A drum circle on the bed of a truck led the way to the barricade between the camp and the pipeline construction. Our group was peaceful. Music, speeches, and prayers floated to the cloudless sky. Yet, immediately police cars came speeding down the hill on the pipeline side—an instantaneous reaction to a pacifistic march.”
Tomorrow’s Global Prayer event is intended to carry the prayer from Standing Rock to the steps of banks around the world which are funding harmful oil extraction. Its organisers say they are uniting in Global Prayer Action “to elevate the consciousness of the financial institutions and governments, asking that they make the choice to invest in clean renewable energy, the future of our planet, and the protection and rights of all people.”
Amanda Peters and the other Jesuit Volunteers at Standing Rock say that their presence there is a sign of solidarity and allyhood. “To hear struggles that are not your own, to build empathy, and act in order to help rectify these inequities. I pray that God humbles me. That God grants me the clarity to see my place here, and the strength to grow in ways that will allow me to be whatever my community needs.”