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The oil pipeline planned for the Dakotas has been front page news. It affects all of us, as it defies long held treaties, destroys sacred land, and it potentially affects the aquifer supplying fresh clean water to a large part of the country. Where does the Methodist Church stand? We support the indigenous people who have gathered from all over the world in protest.
It is the largest gathering of indigenous peoples since 1876 at the Battle of Greasy Grass, otherwise known as the Battle of Little Bighorn. The peace pipe that was part of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn was part of a ceremony for peace and forgiveness led by the seven Sioux Nations on Saturday, September 10.
Bishop Ough, resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, who grew up in northwest North Dakota, and attended a Bureau of Indian Affairs school during his junior high years, also spent two years living and working on the Standing Rock Reservation.in his school years. Bishop Ough delivered a message of hope to those present at the camp:
“It is with intentions of unity, peace and hope that I bring you a message of support from the United Methodist Church,” said Ough. “I lift each of you up in prayer and will continue to do so daily. My hope is that you will not let the spirit of this gathering die. The United Methodists hope to work in a continued relationship to fulfill God’s commandment to be stewards of creation, and maintain loving relationships with all of God’s people.” For more on Facebook look for UMC Fields of Justice.
Native Americans from left, Eugene Sanchez, Jason Umtuch, Martan Mendenhall, and Hugh Ahnatock, all of Portland, Ore., drum and sing at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it won't grant an easement for Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, handing a victory to Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters, who argued the project would threaten the tribe's water source and cultural sites.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Dec. 4 that it would not permit the pipeline to go under Lake Oahe, a section of the Missouri River, and that another route would be sought. Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas Conference also has visited the camp site, as have the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, other church agency leaders and United Methodist clergy and laity.
Henry-Crowe praised the Corps’ decision. “This victory demonstrates the power of peaceful, prayerful resistance,” she said in a statement.
Bishop Ough called for prayer for all affected. “The situation in North Dakota continues to grow and impact the lives of so many,” his statement said. … “We must help all of those who are in need because of the current situation, those at Standing Rock, those in the Bakken and our government officials. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have.”
Updates - United Methodists Continue Stand With Standing Rock
United Methodists Stand With Standing Rock
In 2012, the United Methodist General Conference - the denomination's top legislative body - held an Act of Repentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous People service. A General Conference resolution also charged the denomination's Council of Bishops with carrying out an ongoing process to improve relations with indigenous individuals including local or regional acts of repentance.
Here in the Michigan area a team has committed to fulfilling that charge. An Act of Repentance and Reconciliation was part of the joint session of the Detroit and West Michigan Annual Conference, June 10, 2016, in East Lansing. A search of the YouTube site for "Our Fires Still Burn" will give access to a number of versions, both film and theatre productions.
The one hour documentary, "Our Fires Still Burn", reviews the history of Native Americans which is considered by many to be our "american Holocaust". When Europeans first visited the New World there were 100,000,000 Native Americans in North and South American. Today, as the film explains, "there are but a handful". "Our Fires Still Burn" invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the Midwest. "It dispels the myth that the American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon, and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society." This step is but a small small first step in healing and reconciliation, as the harm done is exposed, wounds cleaned in order that healing may begin.
Coloma United Methodist Church
Our Fires Still Burn -
An Act of Repentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples
For the May 2017 letter from Rev. David Wilson, Superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference,