12 Sep

Season of Creation – A Native American Voice on Loss and Damage

About 200 people gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall in October 2016 to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline which will pass upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Along with the threat to their water supply, the tribe claims the pipeline will destroy burial sites and sacred places. Photo: Fibonacci Blue (CC BY 2.0)
About 200 people gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall in October 2016 to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline which will pass upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Along with the threat to their water supply, the tribe claims the pipeline will destroy burial sites and sacred places. Photo: Fibonacci Blue (CC BY 2.0)

PINE RIDGE, USA/GENEVA – I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during a time when families were still living off the land.  Many of the people still gathered their food from the land, plants and wildlife but this way of life was quickly fading. The land of my reservation home was not land that was vibrant and productive. The traditional agriculture, hunting, gathering, and fishing of Native American Indigenous people were being lost in the lifestyles and cultural memories.

What effect has climate change had on our people?  Let us look at water.

MNI WICONI – WATER IS SACRED

Without adequate, quality water, the people living on our reservations suffer with health issues and a good quality of life.  Without adequate, quality water, the land suffers beyond repair. Without adequate, quality water, the communities are not able to grow and sustain cultural ways of life. Anticipating the loss and damage that would result from the Dakota Access Pipeline, Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe wrote in the Native Sun News:

“I am here to advise anyone that will listen, that the Dakota Access Pipeline is harmful. It will not be just harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water in the Missouri River, which is the only clean and safe river tributary left in the United States... Nonetheless, we still believe that we are the keepers of this beautiful land. Although it was taken from us, we know, we must stand and speak on this land’s behalf. We want everyone and the federal government to respect this land and water and take care of it. That is why our people are standing up and standing with the land and water. We have to be here. It is instructions that the Creator has given us. We have to be here. We have to protect ourselves and those that cannot speak for themselves.” (2016)

We still believe that we are the keepers of this beautiful land. Although it was taken from us, we know, we must stand and speak on this land’s behalf. We want everyone and the federal government to respect this land and water and take care of it. That is why our people are standing up and standing with the land and water.
Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

We as Native Indigenous people live in close relationship with our Creator and nature.  We will continue to raise our voices to join with all people to eliminate causes of global warming that threaten our livelihood, culture, and communities. Climate change brings unseasonably warm weather, mild winters lead to an increase of disease for wildlife, storm surges, and droughts have an effect on our people's lives across the United States.  

As a Native American Indigenous people, we welcome the work of our Lutheran communities as partners with us in affecting the responsibilities of our government, global actors and faith communities to address the effects of climate change on our lands and our waterways.  Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has called: “All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us as we serve in concert with God’s creative and renewing power and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope, courage and direction.”

This is my life’s journey and I invite each of your to join our communities and continue to raise your voices along with us.

Biographical info

Rev. Joann Conroy is the American Indian Alaska Native Lutheran Association President and an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, an LWF member church.

Season of Creation

 

Photo by Fibonacci Blue. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.