The morning after Election Day five of us from Faith Mennonite Church drove to Cannonball, North Dakota, to support and stand in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We pitched our tents at the Sacred Stones Camp and jumped in where needs were clear: washing dishes, praying, participating in non-violent direct action trainings, observing, sorting clothing and other donations, listening….
I participated in a prayer circle, passing the pipe three times around with songs of “we love you water,” “global healing”and“I owe my Lord a morning song.” I rummaged with a mother and daughter through garbage bags of donations to find skirts, so that the girls would not be yelled at for standing in the sacred circle without them.
Among the piles of garage sale books I found Sherman Alexi’s new Thunder Boy, Jr. with a note from a Native Yale sophomore who wanted the kids of Standing Rock to receive it. I walked the gift over to the school tent where the teacher invited me to read it with a group of children. As we packed up Friday morning, a woman and her little boy came over to our minivan asking if we were the Mennonites. The spot where we camped was about as remote as it could be from the central fire and we had laughed that no one would see the welcoming Faith Mennonite banner on our tent. But this desperate woman had seen it and asked if she could talk with someone. I listened to the harrowing story of their last 24 hours, prayed with them and held four-year old Eli’s hand as the three of us walked to the Medic’s tent together.
Driving out across Minnesota and North Dakota I felt as though we were escaping/fleeing from the post-election reactions. Our pilgrimage allowed us to enter into what felt like an alternative post-apocalyptic community, separate from news feeds about hate crimes and despair. Indigenous leadership has gathered a movement of people profoundly committed to resisting injustice and showing compassionate respect for one another. Their commitment is costly and the conditions are dangerous, but a palpable sense of cooperation and mutual respect has built courage. It was not the Church, but it looked and felt to me something like the Kingdom of Heaven. I continue to be encouraged by the words of our friend Ched Myers in a November 9 email, “Let’s face this moment with courage and grace together in a space that celebrates gospel hope and the way of Jesus through the imperial storm.”
The FMC delegation included: Kristi Zabriskie, Andrew Wright (MCC-Central State Program Director), Josh Miller, Ry Siggelkow, and Dan Leisen.
Do not miss the photos Dan Leisen took at Standing Rock! Find them on the Faith Mennonite FB page.
See also the story of a delegation of Mennonites at Standing Rock
Mennonite groups call for solidarity with Standing Rock