Sacred Stone, Clean Water, Gathering People

By Shelley Tanenbaum, QEW General Secretary
Illustration  by Ernesto  Yerena

The gathering at Standing Rock, with more than 280 indigenous tribes represented, is historic and has been an inspiration to all of us. The ongoing gathering is being held to block construction of the Dakota pipeline that threatens water resources for the Lakota Sioux and everyone else in the Missouri River basin of the Dakotas. Plans are to stay all winter, stopping the pipeline and protecting the waters nearby. For information and suggestions on how you can help, consult www.sacredstonecamp.org. This issue of Befriending Creation focuses on Friends’ reflections and efforts to stop the Dakota Pipeline and support indigenous rights. Please continue to send us information and stories on these issues to help us spread the word.

There has been an ongoing discussion about the role of non-indigenous allies. In some cases, too many non-indigenous people are showing up, using resources, and causing problems. Many, however, have been present to serve as witnesses and allies/supporters, bringing supplies and helping out as needed. Recommendations for camping and doing service are listed on the sacredstonecamp.org website.

Several Friends have been present at the Sacred Stone site, some for as long as a month. I felt it was important that, in addition to individual Friends witnessing and doing service, Quaker organizations also be present, especially given our long and mixed history with native Americans. QEW approved a statement of solidarity and support in September (reprinted on page 10); our sister organization, FCNL, joined an interfaith statement (https://fcnl-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/123/9fa79558-3c0f-4087-b757-357e1c04c1a4.pdf?1476899142); and several Meetings have created their own statements and have sent supplies. AFSC has also just released a report you can read at https://www.afsc.org/story/afsc-stands-solidarity-standing-rock.

In November, three QEW Friends will be traveling to Standing Rock. I will be bringing our QEW statement; Judy Lumb will be bringing a statement of solidarity and a flag from the Garifuna indigenous people of Belize; and Carol Barta will be bringing supplies. We will be careful not to stress resources by sleeping off-site and we will stay only a few days. We hope to join in worship with the gathering. We will bring Quaker “greetings” from all of you.

* Illustration by Ernesto Yerena