Office of Social Justice News Special Edition | Celebrating with Standing Rock Sioux

Celebrating with Standing Rock Sioux

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."  

—Psalm 19:1 

On Sunday, Dec. 5, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to be drilled under the Missouri River—marking a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux. The Corps of Engineers states it will be looking into an alternative route for the project. But at this point, the companies running the project are committed to continue construction of the pipeline around Sioux land.

Throughout the past few months, thousands of people from across the country have made the journey to Standing Rock to stand with the Sioux people. Protesters of the pipeline, known as Water Protectors, are concerned the project would desecrate the cultural and ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux and contaminate the Missouri River, the main source of water for the Sioux and millions of others. Tribal leaders also state that the Corps of Engineers’ initial decision to allow the pipeline to run within a half-mile of the local reservation was done without consulting tribal governments and without a thorough study of impacts.

We celebrate this historic moment with our Native sisters and brothers. The faithful and tireless work of Indigenous people and their allies has inspired us to hope that justice is within reach. However, our work is not yet done—we must keep watch to ensure that this just decision is honored and upheld. But for now we give thanks and recognize the importance of organizing and solidarity.

Throughout North America, Indigenous peoples like the Sioux are at the forefront of movements calling for more careful attention to creation care and for deeper respect of Indigenous treaty rights. Just this week in Canada, for example, citing concern for “local affected communities, including Indigenous Peoples,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Voices from the CRC

“This decision is bittersweet and complicated. The hard work of Indigenous activists, elders, and Water Protectors should be celebrated. However, the fight isn’t over. Now, more than ever, Native people, especially youth, are realizing the power of organizing, resisting, and demanding that we be seen as human with rights to land and water that have been wrongfully taken from us. I will not consider this a victory until militarized police have left Standing Rock and water rights are recognized. The lack of trust in the U.S. government felt by Native communities is justified by the current/historic breaking of treaties, infringement upon Indigenous land and water rights, and the dehumanization of Indigenous peoples as a whole. Hence, we realize the tension between celebrating too quickly and keeping up the fight. Work still needs to be done.”

—Tonisha Lynn Begay (Diné [Navajo]), Gallup, New Mexico

“There's victory in fighting for what's right. The President has halted the Dakota Access Pipeline near Sioux land. We can all go home now. Praise God! I thank God for intervening, and I thank all those that helped to make this decision in light of the treatment that the Standing Rock Sioux encountered over DAPL.”

—Darlene Silversmith (Navajo), New Mexico


What is the Dakota Access Pipeline? What would it accomplish? Who is involved in the project? Find out more here from #NoDAPL Solidarity.

Has your congregation participated in the Blanket Exercise: The Loss of Turtle Island? The simulation creates a common memory among Natives and non-Natives. You'll learn the struggle at Standing Rock is part of a larger historical context. Participate and see that Indigenous history is our shared history.

What Do Pipelines Have to Do with the Doctrine of Discovery? - “The truth is, this history has been intentionally expunged from our cultural memory. If it is taught at all, it is usually treated as nothing more than a historical footnote to the grand story of European national birth and divinely mandated expansion.” Read more here.

1956 Wasn't the "Good Old Days" for My Family - Indigenous Canadian perspective. “As we were looking, my friend’s husband pointed out a 1956 convertible and reminisced fondly of that car and the year it represented. I noticed I didn’t recall that year with the same fondness. It represented a whole other meaning for me as a Sayisi Dene First Nations woman.” Read more here.

Stay up to date with recent events by following Indigenous Environmental Network on Facebook.


As we know, our work is not done. Threats against Sioux land and continuation of the pipeline still exist. Will you follow the lead of our Native brothers and sisters? Ask President Obama to take action to permanently halt construction of the pipeline. Advocate here.