As pipeline construction near Standing Rock Indian Reservation on the Missouri River continues to cause tensions between Indigenous protesters and the U.S. government, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald are calling on Canadians to support the protesters.
“Many nations have been separated by imposed borders: Blackfoot/Blackfeet, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Sioux, Cree and others. We need to be good relatives and support our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock,” say the two in a statement released August 25.
Since April, thousands of protesters from First Nations communities across North America have converged on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles the border of North and South Dakota, to protest the Dakota Access pipeline.
If completed, the pipeline, which is being built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would carry around $450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to an existing pipeline in Patoka, IL.
Hiltz and MacDonald note that the pipeline will cross beneath the Missouri River not far from where it passes through the Standing Rock Reservation, and will upset burial grounds and endanger the water supply.
They also criticize the project for failing to abide by the norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to which both the U.S. and Canada are signatories. The UNDRIP requires “free, prior and informed consent to the approval of any project affecting [Indigenous] lands or territories and other resources.”
Hiltz and MacDonald credited the protesters for remaining peaceful, despite the fact that some of their leaders, including Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II, have been arrested. The CBC reports that around two dozen other protesters have been arrested and charged with interfering with pipeline construction.
“We call the church to pray for Standing Rock, for good minds to prevail and for peaceful settlement,” the statement says.
“We call upon the church to pray for our governments, both Settler and Indigenous, that they may work together to protect our mother earth.”
Hiltz and MacDonald also acknowledged the bonds of faith that tie Canadian Anglicans and the people of Standing Rock through the strong presence, historically and currently, of The Episcopal Church in that community.
“[We] stand with Standing Rock. We are all related, not only by our blood but also by the blood of Christ,” the statement says.
Standing Rock has launched a lawsuit against the federal regulators who approved the pipeline and requested a temporary block on construction. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he will issue a decision by September 14.