Western Jurisdiction Bishops send letter to President Obama in support of Standing Rock Sioux Nation

October 28, 2016

The following letter was sent to President Barack Obama by the Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church expressing opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and support for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. 

October 25, 2016

President Barack Obama The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We, the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, write in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and all who bear peaceful witness to its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We recognize that the abundance enjoyed by many in the United States has come at the expense of the original inhabitants of this land, and we recognize that we have a moral obligation to seek just relationships with their descendants.

The United Methodist Church pledges its support in upholding Native American access to and protection of sacred sites and public lands for ceremonial purposes. We affirm the rights of Native Americans to preserve culture, land, religious expression, and sacred spaces (2016 Book of Resolutions, #3321 Native People and The United Methodist Church).

As United Methodists, we urge the development of respectful, honoring relationships with American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian peoples. We believe that Native peoples have a right to clean water and safe living environments. We believe that sovereign tribes have a right to free, prior, and informed consent to proposed infrastructure projects impacting their lands (2016 Book of Resolutions, #1025 Environmental Racism). We call on the United States Government and Energy Transfer Partners to acknowledge the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s right to protect its sacred land, water rights, and right to meaningful consultation regarding development of the land. We urge the exercise of even greater care for future proposed development of sites with religious and cultural significance to Native peoples or sovereign tribes.

We affirm your administration’s plan to reconsider previous decisions about the legality of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and we call for a permanent halt to this project. We also affirm your plan to invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on ways in which federal rules on national infrastructure projects could better protect tribal resources and rights, and on the possibility of new legislation to promote those goals. We call on the leaders of this project to do all in their power to respect the rights, dignity, and sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and all Native American tribes.

We send you our continuing prayers as you make decisions on behalf of justice and peace in this important matter.

In peace,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky, Greater Northwest Area
Bishop Melvin Talbert, Ret.
Bishop Elias Galvan, Ret.
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ret.
Bishop Beverly Shamana, Ret.
Bishop Warner Brown, Ret.
Bishop Robert Hoshibata, Desert Southwest Area
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, California-Nevada Area
Bishop Grant Hagiya, California-Pacific Area
Bishop Karen Oliveto, Mountain Sky Area