At the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Parliament of the World’s Religions adopted several statements including an Indigenous People’s Declaration for Action and An Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change. We encourage everyone to sign these declarations. The people confronting the ongoing crisis in North Dakota are representative of the action these declarations call for. The following is an excerpt from the Indigenous Declaration.
“We hold the Ancestors, the Mother Earth, Forces of Nature, mountains, rivers, oceans, streams, trees, winds, storms, and all living beings as sacred and worthy of reverence. This worldview is the key to reversing the path of disaster on which all inhabitants of our sacred Mother Earth tread. We invite all Brothers and Sisters of the Creator to invoke and respect the divine spirits of the natural world, thereby ending their desecration.”
– Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration for Action, Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2015, Salt Lake City, USA
The Parliament of the World’s Religions denies any purported “rights” of the Dakota Access Pipeline to trespass on, build upon, and subsequently endanger the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. We do not speak for the peoples whose sacred sites and waterways are under attack. Instead we respond to a call from our 2015 Parliament keynote speaker Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and we are inviting you to join us in answering that call:
“What we are being faced with is a dark spirit. All life cannot afford to allow the same mistakes to be made any longer. Look what is happening to the four directions in the contamination of MniWic’oni – the water of life...”
“We are asking the religious leaders to come support them to stand side by side with them [the protestors at Standing Rock] because they are standing in prayer.”
- Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Nations
The desecration of sacred sites, for profit or otherwise, is both an unjustifiable practice and a violation of the basic human right of religious freedom. This desecration is especially unacceptable when, as in this case, it is perpetrated against peoples who have weathered a long history of abuse for the sake of material wealth, land, and resources in both the recent and distant history of the United States.
The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is an attempt to desecrate the sacred, to corrupt the life that flows from the water and grows from the soil, and to silence the voices speaking out in protest. And while the people at Standing Rock have brought an incredible level of visibility to the abuses happening there, the fight does not belong exclusively to them; it is our responsibility as humans and as people of faith to join them in that fight.
Since the centenary Parliament of 1993, the participation of Indigenous Peoples in Parliament events (in the USA, Africa, Europe, and Australia) has been crucial in making the Parliament of the World’s Religions what it now is. In this present environmental crisis, we have once again been granted an opportunity to embrace the unique and deep spirituality that comes from the land and those who guard it, to find common ground with one another and to experience the beautiful reciprocity that comes from sharing our beliefs, cultures, and our common home. We must not squander this chance to listen to those who have been so often silenced in the past.
Organized and well-funded violence is taking place in rural North Dakota, deployed against these protesters as they stand peacefully against further violence being committed against the Earth. It is another example of unchecked commercial entities endangering the common good for profit, a massive step backwards in the move away from fossil fuel reliance, and a clear instance of oppression.
It is time to join with these Protectors and to stand up to this exploitation of natural resources and the people that they sustain, in the name of the Mother Earth who nurtures all of us.
- The Parliament of the World’s Religions
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We do not and will never advocate repaying violence with violence in this protest or in others. For peaceful and practical ways to help protect the land and the water endangered by the DAPL and to support the people who are standing against it, here are some actions you can take:
Visit: http//www.nodaplarchive.com (and view their Call to Action here)
Contact North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200 and leave a message stating your opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to ask President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Call the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-5903 and demand that they rescind the permit.