By Rev. Karen Van Fossan, Bismark, N.D.

Dear UUs Who Stand on the Side of Love with Standing Rock,

Thank you so much for your dedication to justice for Native people and sacred water. Please forgive this standardized reply to your request for information about supporting Standing Rock and the water protectors. We’re receiving lots of requests from dedicated UUs, and we’re having a tough time keeping up.

Right now, I would say we’re in the third phase of UU involvement:

  1. Raise awareness among UUs.
  2. Encourage UUs to witness what’s unfolding here and tell the story back home.
  3. Build solidarity at home — right now — wherever home is for each of us.

If you choose to come to Sacred Stone Spirit or Red Warrior Camp, you will be welcomed, whether you are Native or otherwise. If you’re like any of the other UUs who’ve visited, this journey would support your spiritual development and sense of hope for humanity. It would be something like a spiritual pilgrimage.

That said, if your primary intention is to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is the original purpose of the camp at Standing Rock, the biggest need I can see at this time is one which UUs across the country know how to do: organize actions — right where you are — to stop the pipeline, which is what the water protectors here are all about.

I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to local people when we hear about solidarity actions and nonviolent resistance in other parts of the country. “Stand with Standing Rock” demonstrations, concerts, fundraisers, Sunday services, letters to the editor, congregational pictures with supportive banners, etc., are crucial to create a nationwide movement like the one that stopped Keystone XL.

Of course you are welcome to visit our uniquely beautiful state whenever you choose. We’d love to see you at 10:30 on Sunday mornings in our sanctuary at 818 East Divide Avenue in Bismarck — or bump into you at the camp.

Please understand, though, that we are very involved in bringing supplies to the camp and doing our best to build solidarity in our area. This needs to be our priority, and right now we just don’t have the capacity to provide the number of rides, home stays, directions, and updates by phone that we would like. We may be slow in getting back to you, but we are working to build our capacity and are hopeful we can be more supportive before long.

If you would like to stay current on the supply needs at the camp, please visit sacredstonecamp.org. If you would like to be connected with UUs who are organizing local solidarity actions, you can visit a new Facebook page: UU Presence at Sacred Stone Camp. To stay relatively current with on-the-ground news, you can check our website again soon, as we will begin sharing brief updates here.

Again, thank you for all the ways you Stand on the Side of Love!

With gratitude and spirit,

Karen Van Fossan

Minister,

Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Church