On March 10, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders call on allies across the United States and around the world to peacefully March on Washington DC. They and indigenous peoples of the world will lead a march in prayer and action and ask that people rise in solidarity with us or take peaceful action at home in your tribal nations, states, cities, towns, villages and provinces.
Tim Nafziger, a Mennonite writer, and Willie Lubka, a Universalist faith leader, recently visited Standing Rock and feel compelled to share their experiences at Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota.
The historic gathering of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and supporters from around the world converged in solidarity last December to halt the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, or DAPL.
Tim Nafziger, a Mennonite writer and a leading member of the Ventura County chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice, spent a week at the camp with the non-profit Christian Peacemaker Team.
Willie Lubka traveled to Standing Rock for just one day: December 4, 2016, Oceti Sakowin Camp’s Interfaith Day of Prayer.
Both men were at Malibu United Methodist Church on February 12 to talk about the 1,134-mile-long pipeline project that would connect oil fields in North Dakota to a tank farm in Illinois and the people who gathered to oppose it. The controversial pipeline was moved from the Bismarck area over environmental impact concerns, onto Sioux tribal lands, where the pipe will cross under the Missouri River just a half mile from the Standing Rock reservation.
“I am not a representative of any organization,” Lubka explained. “I went to Standing Rock as an individual. “I’m here as a witness. I was there for one day.” The experience changed his life. “When I learned what was going on at Standing Rock, I knew I had to speak up, get involved,” he said. “After the election I never felt so discouraged, fatigued, disgusted. I went to Standing Rock to heal my broken heart.”
Lubka, who lives in the Conejo Valley, traveled to the Oceti Sakowin camp as part of an organized effort to bring together people of all faiths and all nations for a day of solidarity and prayer. He flew into Fargo, ND, where he met his niece, Dawn Lubka. The pair traveled to the camp with an elderly Rabbi from Maryland, a young Jewish woman from New York and a Swiss journalist. He outlined the camp rules: no weapons, drugs, or violence. Reverence and respect for the people, cultures and traditions. “Everything is organized and run by shared leadership,” he explained.
“I’ve been to a lot of political protests, but this one was different,” he said. “I’m still discouraged about the election, still fearful and concerned about our country, but my day at Standing Rock gave me a great cause of hope. I think people should listen to them. There’s a lot to be gained.”
Lubka encouraged the audience to participate by taking action, protesting or writing letters, and contributing to help support the water protectors and their legal battle against the pipeline contractors and the federal government.
“[President] Trump has fast-tracked the drilling and drilling has begun.” he said. “But the fight is far from over.” Lubka is considering returning to Standing Rock, but, he says, local activists don’t have to travel to North Dakota to show solidarity.
“There are events all over the country,” he said, describing how he joined a demonstration in Thousand Oaks. “A lot is happening.”
Tim Nafziger spent a week at the camp as part of the Christian Peacemaker Team’s delegation and his experience was very different from Lubka’s.
Nafziger was at the camp during the police assault on the water protectors over Thanksgiving of 2016. He witnessed the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and fire hoses on the unarmed, non-violent protesters, but he also came away from the experience with a feeling of peace and awe.
“It was amazing but traumatizing,” he said. “Powerful and hopeful.” He described it as an invitation to explore what he called “heart space.” He views Standing Rock as the start of a new movement. “It’s the beginning of the healing of the world’s children,” he said, and a new chapter, one that makes use of technology not available to earlier activists.
Nafziger explained how social media helps participants organize and keep track of events and actions, and how drones and human legal witnesses keep a constant eye on the action and document everything for the record, to counter misinformation. He believes the movement will continue even if the fight against this pipeline is unsuccessful.
“Other pipeline camps are showing up,” he said. “It’s not just about Standing Rock in the end.”
Like Lubka, Nafziger encourages people to donate to support the Standing Rock water protectors, and to take a closer look at social and environmental injustice closer to home, as well.
“We need to show up,” he said.
Malibu United Methodist Minister Reverend Sandy Liddell summed it up in one sentence: “These are really big issues that affect us all in ways big and small,” she said.
Nafziger will be speaking on April 2, at E.P. Foster Library in Ventura, on behalf of Citizens for Peaceful Resolution. It’s a long drive for Topanga residents, but an opportunity to listen to a witness to history. More information is available at www.c-p-r.net.
To learn more or contribute to Standing Rock, visit: http://standwithstandingrock.net.