Discussing
Why Christians Should Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux

Marlena Graves

Marlena Graves
November 17, 2016

The Dakota Access Pipeline protest is a call to look, listen, and confess of the sins that have been committed against Native Americans.

Kris Webb
November 17, 2016

As I understand the issues, is there not also a religious liberty aspect to be considered here? Is not another objection to the pipeline is that it crosses onto sacred Sioux burial grounds? One reason why so many Christians elected Donald Trump is because they thought he would protect their religious liberties. But, how much does he care about the religious liberties of the Sioux? How much do those Christians care? Or do they care only about the religious liberties for themselves?

Doug Vande Griend
November 17, 2016

As Kris Webb alludes to, the irony here is that the Sioux's case is largely one that would fall under RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which is the legislation that those who now support the Sioux have bitterly opposed in Indiana and elsewhere, arguing that RFRA is anti-gay and should be repealed.

I would add (having actually litigated RFRA cases) that in this specific case, while a RFRA claim could be put forward, it would most likely ultimately fail. The protections afforded to religious freedom by RFRA would probably have to be much stronger and expansive for a Sioux claim based on RFRA in this fact scenario to succeed.

I wonder whether those the support the claims of the Sioux here would want to raise the RFRA protections? I doubt it. When confronted by this sort of controversy, we too often want "justice for our causes but not for theirs."

Geoffrey Bray
November 17, 2016

I haven't been able to verify this ... but my friends that live in North Dakota tell me that the pipeline company was negotiating with Standing Rock Sioux to run the pipeline through their land but the Sioux weren't happy with the amount. So, the pipeline company decided to go around them on Federal land instead ... and then the Sioux came up with all of this idea of how it was across sacred land, etc. Which puts a whole different spin on things.

Joel
November 17, 2016

It's all about money. And don't these violent vandals seem a lot like paid protesters we are seeing employed elsewhere by liberals?

JRederWhite
November 17, 2016

These are compelling reasons for anyone to side with the Native Americans on this issue. But they are not specifically Christian reasons. I am sure that The Bible speaks to this issue as well. I would like to see some scripture that would shed light on this emotional issue. (As well, what are the legitimate reasons to side with the oil company? I'm sure that scripture would also enlighten this stance, probably pointing out that those who side with the oil company are doing so for secular reasons rather than biblical ones.

Klk
November 17, 2016

1. Government agencies held public meetings for ten years prior to the approval of the pipeline. The protest leaders never showed up for any of them.
2. The government sent representatives to talk to the Sioux and other tribes prior to the pipeline's approval. The leaders of those tribes signed off on the pipeline.
3. The pipeline does not cross any "Indian" lands. The pipeline has been re-routed at least a dozen times so that it crosses only privately held land that was sold or leased to the government for the purpose of constructing the pipeline.
4. The pipeline parallels existing pipeline construction and cable installations and crosses the same legitimately leased or purchased land.
5. The water supply for the Sioux has been/will be relocated so that the pipeline will have no impact on it.

David J.
November 18, 2016

Trump will not have a vested interest; his current investments are irrelevant. His investments will be placed in a blind trust when he becomes president so that he has no personal stake in any governmental decisions.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
November 18, 2016

In Reply to JRederWhite (comment #29532)
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Hi JRederWhite,

Thanks for asking about the use of Scripture in this piece. Most often at TC, we highlight and link to references to the Bible. In this piece, you'll find Marlena cites Romans 13:8-10, Proverbs 31:8-9, Genesis 9:1-6, and Matthew 3:1-10.

Josh Larsen,
TC editor

Tamara
November 18, 2016

Thank you so much for addressing this topic at Think Christian!

Marlena Graves
November 18, 2016

In Reply to Josh Larsen (comment #29536)
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In Reply to JRederWhite (comment #29532)
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Yes, I wanted to echo what Josh said. The Scripture is in the hyperlink.

Marlen
November 18, 2016

In Reply to Kris Webb (comment #29524)
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That is definitely an aspect. If this were a longer essay, I would've delved into that a little more, but I hinted at in line where I said, "Water contamination is one of many critical reasons why the Sioux tribe doesn’t want the pipeline near their water sources."

Marlena Graves
November 18, 2016

In Reply to klk (comment #29533)
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Thank you for replying. I read through these objections that you cited in my research. The Tribe has a different take on these. Here's one story from Democracy NOW!, an independent news site, about the sacred burial grounds. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/6/did_the_dakota_access_pipeline_company

Part of what I sought to communicate in my article is that this is one example. But Standing Rock aside, we as Christians need to address the wrongs our country has committed and continues to commit against Native Americans.

Thank you for reading this piece and engaging!

Blessings,
Marlena

Marlena
November 18, 2016

In Reply to Kris Webb (comment #29524)
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This is a great point. Absolutely!

Marlena
November 18, 2016

In Reply to Joel (comment #29531)
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I read reports that the Sioux Tribe was expelling violent protestors. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/16/standing-rock-sioux-votes-expel-rowdy-protesters-w/

Also, maybe you know more about this than I do--I just read the piece yesterday, Paul Horner, 38, talked about writing Fake News for Facebook and how he made up the story about protestors getting paid.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/11/17/facebook-fake-news-writer-i-think-donald-trump-is-in-the-white-house-because-of-me/

I do agree that a lot of it has to do with money - but not the reservation's. The Sioux tribe doesn't have very much money, they have very high unemployment rate. Most are employed by the casino.

Marlena
November 18, 2016

In Reply to Geoffrey Bray (comment #29529)
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I heard the same thing, Geoffrey. I commented on that a little bit below. But I've read many pieces that would contest those sentiments. I wanted to include all this in my piece, but space limits our focus when we write. I think we could write several pieces on Standing Rock and our treatment of Native Americans.

Marlena
November 18, 2016

In Reply to David J. (comment #29535)
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Hi David, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren, seems to think Trump's election means the completion of the pipeline.

The leader of the company behind the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline is “100 percent” confident President-elect Donald Trump will help the project get finished.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dakota-access-pipeline-energy-transfer-partners-ceo-kelcy-warren-breaks-silence/

Spy
November 20, 2016

Thanks for educating an outsider about this. I give my full support behind The Sioux Tribe.

@Joel, nobody is paying people to protest. The violent minority are just PO'd anarchists with no concept or care of private property. I know that because I used to be one. Liberals violent? No, they're puppy dogs compared to me and the groups I associate with. I'm not on their side btw. They didn't stand up for working people's rights when it called for it and they support a criminal. I would peacefully protest in less than a heartbeat if I had to protest someone like Trump in my country. Thanks @Marlena for the link. I just find it ridiculous it even had to be proven false. I'm connected to these organisers. They've never needed to pay nor would paying people even enter their mind. It's very easy to rally up the troops. Most people come from different walks of life; liberal, anarchist, socialist and people who feel they'd be affected by one change Trump brings in is enough to get them to march.

Sorry @TC for going so off topic. I stand for the truth and I will not sit idly by while people drink up all the right wing media's lies.

Randy Kleine
November 21, 2016

Christians don't concern themselves with the "sacredness" of burial grounds. Rather, we are concerned with those who are alive who need care and who need to draw close to Jesus. The fact is that we cannot help people physically without resources like oil. The so-called "environmentalists" would return mankind to a primitive state where millions and millions would starve and die prematurely. They hail as "good" tribal collectivism where people are "led" to their destruction by demagogues and bureaucrats.

Wilfred Springer
November 21, 2016

We might not be concerned with burial grounds considered sacred by a group of people, but we are concerned about justice. You make it sound as if the oil companies are non-profit organisations that care only about the wellbeing of the globe, for which I yet have to see compelling evidence. Also, even though you might be right in saying that we currently would be *limited* in our ability to help people without using fossil fuels, the distribution of fossil fuel does not depend on this pipeline; having this pipeline will only make distribution of the oil cheaper. I can't see how not having this pipeline would send the world back to a primitive state. There must be other ways to get the fuel where it needs to be.

Randy Kleine
November 21, 2016

You make the great mistake of thinking that so-called "non-profits" are more concerned about people's well-being, and that "for-profits" are in it only for themselves. It is capitalism or "free enterprise" which has made a clean environment and respect for the rights of others possible. "Do-gooders" always end up leading us to tyranny, despotism, scarcity, and pollution.

Joe Hinman
November 22, 2016

Right on.I am standking with the Standing Rock Sioux. It's a struggle for justice and self determination by a people who lost both ages ago.

Jnawtic
December 3, 2016

In Reply to Kris Webb (comment #29524)
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Well, I guess once he's actually president, you can find out.

Monica Brands
March 28, 2017

In Reply to Geoffrey Bray (comment #29529)
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Delayed response, but was just researching this issue again, and found this comment interesting - saw the NPR article putting that slant on things, but I'm not actually sure it changes the dynamics much. Even if one of the issues was Native Americans being unhappy with the amount they were offered, it is still their land and they would be being exploited if they were not paid a fair amount - and even if it *was* a fair amount, they should still have the right to refuse to sell even if religious or cultural reasons weren't the primary motivator. "Eminent domain" the idea that the government can force you out of your land if they deem it necessary, is pretty dangerous, and especially brutal when it comes to lands owned by Native Americans, the original Americans.

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