Perspectives from Standing Rock

By Douglas Taylor

At the beginning of November, Jo VonRue (our Ministerial Intern here in Binghamton) and I traveled up to the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota to support the Sioux tribe. They are fighting to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipe Line on sacred lands and which threatens their water supply.

Jo and I received unanimous support from our UU Binghamton Board of Trustees when we asked them about it on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, during worship, the congregation demonstrated their support by responding to a Special Collection to defray the costs of the trip. We carried the members of our congregation in our hearts as we travelled the next few days to North Dakota. It took us 2 days to get there, we flew to Minneapolis and met up with other UU’s from all over the country. We arrived in Cannonball, ND Wednesday evening in time for some training ans inspiration before the Thursday event.

Over 500 clergy responded to the call to come support the Water Protectors, Unitarian Universalist clergy made up nearly 10% of that response. On Thursday morning we processed down to the water, to the bridge with its barricade. There were speeches, symbolic actions, and several of us were invited to cross the bridge and say prayers near the barricade.

I heard Rev. Peter Morales (UUA President) say “you can pretend to care, but you cannot pretend to show up.” I was proud in that moment to be part of this great act of solidarity. When Jo and I went out onto the bridge we saw the scorched concrete, the scars on the side of the road, the broken glass, and the burned out vehicles chained together to augment the cement barricade – it was disturbing. I was proud to be there in support of the water protectors, and I was ashamed of what has been done in my name as a citizen.

Back home, we hosted a multigenerational worship service to share with the congregation what we experienced. We connected with other clergy from Binghamton who had been at Standing Rock and co-hosted a prayer vigil on December 4 – right at the time the news came of the denial of the easement by the Army Corp of Engineers. (The fight continues, but that was a significant victory!)

Rev. Douglas Taylor

UU Congregation of Binghamton, NY