Baltimore Yearly Meeting Minute to Support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting supports the sovereign government and people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they wage a nonviolent, legal battle against those who would endanger their heritage and their future natural resources. The wise leaders and their supporters are strong in spirit and wisdom, in patience and in vision. The Lakota and Dakota people, with their allies, have inspired unity among Native nations and others in their quest to save their lands and people from harm. They are waging this moral and legal struggle not for themselves, but for future generations.
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting joins the Standing Rock Tribe and its allies in seeking full tribal consultation on a government-to-government basis, as is legally required by treaty and law on any and all matters that relate to or may affect their lands, people, or traditional homelands. We urge the President and the federal executive branch agencies to honor the Federal Trust Responsibility to the indigenous people of our country and to immediately act to preserve the burials, lands, and resources of the Standing Rock nation now and in the future. We are encouraged by the decision by the United States Departments of the Interior, Justice, and Army to suspend pipeline construction near Lake Oahe. However, this is a suspension not a revocation, so there is no guarantee that construction will not resume. We must continue to show our support in words and deeds until the matter is justly settled. Treaty rights and preservation of indigenous sacred sites must be honored for the Standing Rock Tribe and all Native nations.
May we all learn to make wise decisions to benefit future generations. In the words of the Lakota, Mitakuye Oyasin—We Are All Related.
This Minute was approved by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) on October 15, 2016. It was brought to the Meeting by the Indian Affairs Committee, which has been in existence since 1795.
The following is Background to the situation, provided by the Indian Affairs Committee.
The first proposed route for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) crossed under the Missouri River near Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. When people protested that their water might be contaminated, the route was moved south—where a spill would contaminate Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s waters instead. The changed route went through sites sacred to the Tribe. When the tribe identified this land, which included burial sites, the company building the pipeline promptly bulldozed those exact sites. The company’s security service used attack dogs against peaceful protestors, causing bloody injuries among the protestors. The Governor of North Dakota called out the National Guard to keep the peace, yet the peaceful people, burial sites, and sacred lands were not protected. Support for the Tribe has come from diverse quarters, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which called on the United States government, “fair independent and open and transparent process to resolve this issue and avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”
Words of Dave Archambault II, Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: “We protect the relatives we have, and those relatives are the plant life, the animal life, the water. We don’t think of them as ‘resources’. We think of them as actual beings that are precious to us.”
Words of William Penn, in “Letter to the Indians,” dated October 18, 1681: “There is one great God and power that hath made the world and all things therein, to whom all people owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day give an account, for all that we do in the world. This great God hath written his laws in our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love, and help, and do good to one another and not do harm and mischief to one another.”
Words of the Lakota, Mitakuye Oyasin: “We are all related.”
Actions for Friends and Meetings
- A letter containing this Minute in support of the Standing Rock Tribe has been sent, or will be sent to all of the following: 1) appropriate political representatives, 2) newspapers and other media sources, 3) other Quaker Meetings and organizations, 4) the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, 5) US Department of Interior, US Department of Justice, US Army, 6) North Dakota Governor, 7) other concerned organizations. If there are others that individuals in BYM, or that Meetings in BYM, feel should have this news, please send appropriate letters.
- Donations are always welcomed. There is a school at the protest site; cold weather is coming; and there is always a need for finances to help sponsor the activities and legal actions. The following is the official website to check for details. http://standingrock.org/news/standing-rock-sioux-tribe--dakota-access-pipeline-donation-fund/
- Keep informed and inform others. Follow what is happening on social media - Twitter, Facebook etc. – for timely news and videos. Earthjustice is a primary source of legal support for the Standing Rock Tribe’s litigation on the pipeline issue. For more information go to their site: http://earthjustice.org/features/faq-standing-rock-litigation
Talk about it. Talk to family, friends, colleagues, people you meet. Too many people are unaware of events at Standing Rock. Many are sympathetic, and may be active supporters once they are more informed.
- Write letters! To editors of local and national papers. To your Congressional delegates. To the President. State your interest in this issue. Urge editors to report it more – it is not a local issue. It is a matter of treaties. It is a respect between governments—tribal and federal. It is an issue of government protection of all citizens. Eastern congress persons also need reminding that we care about Native issues. Ask them to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline’s easement to drill under Lake Oahe until the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s waters and sacred places are protected.
- Join protests – if you are so moved - locally, in Washington, D.C., at Standing Rock.