The UTO board visited St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, this past week. We went to meet as a board and to visit the site of The Tiny Houses project. If you want to know more about that project and others, please visit our website: https://uto2014.wordpress.com/.
Above: the Province IV UTO Board-
During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet residents of the Standing Rock Reservation and visit the camp for the protestors. The people of Standing Rock understand the need for a pipeline. Right now, oil from the Bakken oil fields is transported by train. There have been a number of explosive derailments over the years. What they want is for the oil company to do more to protect their water supply and burial grounds. They are peacefully protesting and are unarmed. Yes, sometimes they trespass and are guilty of civil disobedience; however, the local law enforcement officials and the National Guard are treating them as if they were armed and dangerous. I fear this heavy handed response will ultimately lead to a loss of life. There have already been injuries.
I did witness a glimmer of hope amidst the strife. Fr. John Floberg, vicar of St. James, explained to us that many of the tribes around the country, who have been mortal enemies in the past, are making peace. Locally, the Lakota Sioux and the Arikara have been able to set aside their hatred to support one another. Native Americans from as far away as Alaska have been arriving to stand side by side with the residents of Standing Rock. The road that runs through the camp is lined with flags, too many to count. Each one was sent to the reservation to show support and solidarity. There are flags from tribes, states and other countries. The board proudly posed under the Episcopal flag that day. I see that road of flags as a symbol of unity and grace. I can’t help but wonder if native people can set aside their differences that go back centuries, can we, the newest residents of America, do the same? Please keep the people of the Standing Rock Reservation in your prayers.
If you wish to help the people of Standing Rock, contact Fr. John Floberg, St. James Episcopal Church, Cannon Ball, ND.
Province IV UTO representative