Disciples News Service

A statement of gratitude to Native Americans and First Peoples

from the Justice Table

  • waterfallIn Utah, a coalition of five tribes have a proposal on the table to assist the Department of the Interior with the management of Bears Ears Wildlife Refuge, a proposed project awaiting federal approval.
  • And in the far north, the Gwich’in people are advocating for protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, part of their ancestral lands that span both Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada.
  • In Oklahoma, the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes successfully negotiated a settlement with Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma for the protection of water.
  • In North Dakota, we are seeing yet again the results of the systemic racism in the United States in the furor over the pipeline proposed through the ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux. The pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the tribe of around 10,000.  Fresh water, healthy forests, clean air, intact soil and ecosystems are vital not only to God’s creation but ultimately to all of humanity.

For generations Native Americans and First Peoples in the United States and Canada approached the call to care for God’s Creation seriously. They have seen land stolen, animals hunted to extinction, forests logged and rivers polluted. Too often the Church has been silent as our sisters and brothers have resisted the forces destroying creation; at our worst the Church has been complicit.

When a people have been stuck at the margins – of self-determination, of opportunity, of economic well-being – despair is inevitable but here there is hope. We raise our hearts and voices in gratitude for the Native Americans and First Peoples courageously caring for creation in this critical time.

These Native Americans and First Peoples are taking a stand for God’s creation. Though each situation is slightly different, the common thread is that of care for the earth – a gift of long-term perspective rooted deep in cultural traditions. It is for these reasons that we continue to offer prayers for, listen to the wisdom of and follow the leadership of Native American and First Peoples during this pivotal moment of restoration and healing.

We are grateful for the leadership of these tribes who have loved the land in the United States and Canada long before the Europeans arrived. We are grateful for the willingness of the Bears Ears Coalition to work alongside and partner in managing the land. We are grateful for the reminder that our thirst for unrenewable resources can directly affect the lives of our fellow Americans and Canadians.

If you would like to stand by these leaders caring for God’s children by caring for God’s creation, please click on the links below.

Bears Ears petition     Gwich’in petition   Read more about Standing Rock issues  TIME  |  Bill Moyers

The Justice Table of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries
Christian Church Foundation
Council on Christian Unity
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Home Missions
Disciples Women
Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries
Green Chalice, a part of Disciples Home Missions
National Benevolent Association
National Convocation
North American Pacific/Asian Disciples
Office of General Minister and President
Reconciliation Ministry
Week of Compassion