By Bill Konrardy and other members of the Minnesota Native American Ministry Action Team
In Bishop Ough’s August 21 message, “Mini Wiconi (Lakota for ‘Water Is Life’),” he encouraged United Methodists to wrestle with our part in ministry with our native sisters and brothers:
“I stand with my Lakota and Dakota brothers and sisters because I believe the central question of the creation story is at the heart of their lament and their protest: What will we do with the blessing of power God has given us? This is a particularly poignant God-question for those of us who have the power of privilege in our country and the world. I urge all Dakotas and Minnesota United Methodists to wrestle with this question so central to our faith and witness.”
After months of prayerful days and demonstrations of peaceful resistance to the encroachment of developers threatening sacred sites and life-giving water, the prayers of the Standing Rock camps were answered when the Army Corps of Engineers denied the Dakota Access Pipeline easement, saying that more study is necessary and alternative routes need to be explored, which halted the construction.
On December 5, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault told protesters who remained at the camp: “[Your] purpose has been served and it’s time to go home.” (On a radio show that same morning, Archambault discussed the easement and how to move forward.)
What does this mean for us? To borrow from the title of a book by Henrietta Mann and Anita Phillips, we continue to be “on this spirit walk” with our Native American sisters and brothers. You may remember the invitation that Phillips offered when she spoke at the 2015 Annual Conference—to see, hear, find Christ in, and claim our Native American neighbors and brethren.
The Dakotas Access Pipeline resistance movement, and the recent high-profile, dramatic moments at Standing Rock that were seen in mainstream and social media, give us the opportunity to respond to Phillips’ invitation. The Native American Ministry Action Team (NAMAT) encourages Minnesota United Methodists to use the “On This Spirit Walk” curriculum to join the conversation.
Other ways to learn about and engage with our native brothers and sisters include:
• Preparing ourselves and our annual conference for an Act of Repentance
• Participating in screenings of the film “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code” and healing dialogue (watch the conference events calendar for organized screenings)
• Partnering in our ecumenical efforts with other denominations
• Partnering with Healing Minnesota Stories
To learn more about any of these opportunities or Standing Rock, the Dakotas Access Pipeline resistance movement, and ways to engage, contact any member of NAMAT. Bill Konrardy would be happy to talk and can be reached at (612) 310-3602.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church