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Solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux
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A WITNESS FROM STANDING ROCK

by Addie Domske, IPMN Steering Committee


Four days after returning from the Israel Palestine Mission Network's annual meeting, my new spouse and I packed up our Prius with camping supplies and headed to the Oceti Sakowin Camp just north of the Standing Rock reservation in North and South Dakota to accompany the people fighting against the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Throughout the camp, there were signs listing the “Direct Action Principles” set forth by the native leaders of this camp’s work. The list is explicitly non-violent, and the second to last rule was: “This is a ceremony. Act accordingly.” The people of Standing Rock see their work as inherently spiritual.

Over the next four days, my spouse and I would spend most of our time listening to the elders and leaders of the the camp while attending direct action training, camp meetings, water ceremonies, and home cooked meals from the camp kitchens. We, along with others from the PC(USA) were answering the Clergy Call to action; but more than that, we were directly responding to something we had discussed at the IPMN meeting a few days earlier.

During our annual meeting’s visioning session about the future of IPMN, I lead a brief introduction of the facets of intersectionality and how it could help guide us into the future of IPMN’s work. As I gave a framework for where we could go as a network, I simultaneously felt steeped in my own hypocrisy. How could I encourage us to see the connections between different movements in our society when I had done nothing to put myself at the feet of our native sisters and brothers’ storytelling? I felt compelled to move my body to Standing Rock merely to practice the minimum of what I was preaching we should do in the future of IPMN. How could I be working toward a just peace in Israel/Palestine and not be present to hear the narratives of my relatives in my own country?

Throughout our time at Oceti Sakowin Camp they had an announcer on a loudspeaker constantly making announcements or singing prayers or even yielding the mic to others in the camp to make a testimony or update on an action. I began lovingly referring to it as "Standing Rock radio." I wish it could be streamed across the country for people to hear the creativity of the actions, the wisdom of the people, and the humor that kept them going each day. The announcers would change throughout the day but one thing they all continued to say was to refer to whoever was in front of them as a “relative:”

"My relative here comes from the UCC church and wants to bring us greetings."
"My relative lost his wallet; I checked the credit cards, they're expired and no use at the casino."
"My relative comes from New Mexico and wants to share about her tribe."
"My relative who owns x car needs to move it--oh and the tags on the licence plate are almost expired."
Native or white or mixed or black or brown, we were all named as "relatives."

This is the work of intersectionality. Seeing our movements as related. Seeing the oppression of one as the oppression of the other. The people of Palestine have always taught us this. The women of Gaza reminded the women of Flint that they were not alone. In “A letter from Gaza to black America”, Mohammed Alhammami connected the shared fights that Palestine and Black America have against white supremacy, and a group of Black Lives Matter activists have done the same by directly naming Palestine in their Movement for Black Lives platform. And just this week, the people of Palestine have reminded the people of Standing Rock, their relatives, that “your story is our story.”  
This is intersectional work. This is spiritual work.

Through me as a white American Christian, the evils of white supremacy and settler colonialism and hierarchical theology have bonded together to create a strategic force against my relatives.  We relatives must therefore yoke our strategies. These evils are connected, systematic, and we must fight them all together.  They're already doing that at Standing Rock.  They're already doing it in Palestine.  While respecting the uniqueness of each struggle, let us make our work strategic against the systems that oppressed our relatives.  It was indeed a sacred act to witness this month.  "This is a ceremony.  Act accordingly."


You can find out more information about Standing Rock by looking through the hashtags #StandingRock or #NoDAPL on Facebook or Twitter, and by viewing videographers on the ground like Myron Dewey, founder of Digital Smoke Signals. He uploads to Facebook and YouTube. To find out ways to support from afar, visit the Oceti Sakowin Camp website, where they keep an updated list of items needed for the camp’s work.



Addie Domske is in her second year on the steering committee of IPMN and was recently elected as secretary. She has a Masters in Social Work from University of Chicago and is a recent graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary.



 


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