In order to preserve life and sacred land and water on Mother Earth, we practitioners, students, and teachers of the Buddhist tradition stand with the peaceful people of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and with hundreds of other indigenous nations and allies in protest of construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We call on the Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. government agencies to adhere to regulations protecting the Standing Rock Sioux people, sacred land, and clean water, and to practice truthful and loving speech and action that heals past grievances as well as earning trust. Arrest and prosecution of peaceful protesters must end immediately. Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and any efforts toward running a pipeline beneath the Missouri River must be halted until proper environmental assessments are made and risks to the Standing Rock Sioux and other affected groups are prevented.
David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe shares:
We are a resilient people who have survived unspeakable hardships in the past, so we know what is at stake now. As our songs and prayers echo across the prairie, we need the public to see that in standing up for our rights, we do so on behalf of the millions of Americans who will be affected by this pipeline.
The first precept the Buddha taught is to preserve life. We come together to offer the above Buddhist statement of support for the Standing Rock actions with a clear focus on preserving life for all. In this spirit, we insist in a halt to the defilement of our shared land, water and atmosphere – the exploitation of Mother Earth herself – in which fossil fuel and other corporations continue to engage for their own financial enrichment. Indeed, we stand with Indigenous elders in voicing the need to protect the leaders and defenders of these corporations from themselves. As all of life is interdependent, they and their children will find no safety from their actions and furthermore will bear the karmic burden of causing incalculable harm.
Zen master, Thích Nhất Hạnh calls us to action:
We have to start learning how to live in a way so that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren. We need a kind of collective awakening. We have the dharma; we have the means; we have enough wisdom. We do not have to sink into despair … we can act.
The Dalai Lama counsels:
Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and lack of respect for the earth’s living things. This lack of respect extends even to the earth’s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace doesn’t become a reality and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.
The Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi proposes:
To avoid civilizational collapse, we not only need new technologies… but even more fundamentally, a new paradigm… This change in worldview must lead to reverence and respect for the natural world, recognized as our irreplaceable home and nurturing mother. It must acknowledge the finitude of nature, and treat it accordingly, bearing in mind our responsibility to future generations.
Yet even in the light of these truths, design and construction of the pipeline has not protected the sacred water and ancestral burial grounds of the Sioux people. As a result, the path of the pipeline creates a risk of catastrophic pollution of the Missouri River, an important source of drinking water for millions and a sacred river to the Sioux people. The DAP project was fast-tracked using the “Nationwide Permit No. 12” process which allowed Texas oil company Energy Transfer Partners to circumvent environmental reviews required under the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. This process treats the pipeline as a series of small construction sites rather than the large multi-state project it is. As a result, the risks to the Missouri River, the Sioux people, and others were never properly assessed.
Federal law requires the United States Army Corps of Engineers to oversee construction of multi-state pipelines and consult with tribes about their sovereign interests. However, permits were granted and construction begun without meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior have raised alarms about the process.
For more than five centuries, the Doctrine of Discovery and the laws based upon it have legalized the theft of land, labor and resources from Indigenous Peoples around the world and denied their human rights. The difficult truth is that such and exploitation continues in the present moment. Mining, fracking, logging, water theft, plantation agriculture, and other extractive industries are taking resources from Indigenous communities to benefit the wealth of those with European descent.
Once again, consistent with a long and painful history of colonial domination, we see the legal rights of an indigenous community ignored by U.S. government agencies. By refusing to enforce its own regulations, the US government is actively supporting a private corporation, DAPL/Dakota Access Pipeline in desecration and exploitation. We see this conflict in the context of struggles around the world in which extractive economies, with state protection, face off against indigenous defenders of land and water.
Rebecca Adamson of the Eastern Cherokee Deer Clan observes:
Whether we like it or not the simple truth is that Indians have to become leaders beyond their own communities… What we see in today’s Western societies is fear-based — a scarcity of resources and individuals with insatiable appetites. When you look at an indigenous economy that’s survived for tens of thousands of years you see [an assumption] of prosperity and a kinship-based sense of enoughness.
We are inspired by the model of healing, collaboration and solidarity with which the native tribes are joining together at this time in defense of indigenous rights and the well-being of Mother Earth. It is with this spirit that a Buddhist community can join with people of all faiths and no faith in protecting the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples, in reverence for basic goodness, in honoring the sacred and in defending all life, near and far, seen and unseen, born and yet to be born. These principles lay at the center of true wisdom. Svaha!
May unskillful actions harming Earth and all life cease now.
May transformation occur in the hearts and minds of corporate and government leaders in order to prevent further suffering, alienation, and destruction of life.
May all those who honor the sacred Earth come together to support the Sacred Rock Sioux Reservation and all those who stand for her protection.
May the violence and theft that harms all indigenous people forever cease.
Finally, may we follow our statement of support with meaningful action! Specifically, we call on those supporting this statement to follow through on the steps below.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse implores US President Obama to Keep His Word:
We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self-destruction. These self-destructive activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.
How to Stand with Standing Rock: Solidarity Actions
Editor’s note: This campaign has now ended. We preserve the actions below for historical purposes, but inactive links/phone numbers have been removed.
- Endorse this statement (see below).
- Endorse the Open Interfaith Letter on Standing Rock.
- Following the guidelines of respectful and wise speech, share your voice with North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple.
- Sign the petition to the White House to Stop DAPL.
- Call the White House. Tell President Obama (still empowered to act!) of our support for the demands of the Standing Rock Sioux in protection of clean water, sacred lands and the health of the Earth on which we all depend.
- Find or organize local #NoDAPL solidarity opportunities.
- NEW! Join the fundraising campaign to support a Mindfulness/Buddhist contingent to be present at Standing Rock.
- NEW! Pledge to Pray with Standing Rock. Read more and join the global pledge.
- Travel to Bismark in person to join the Camp of the Sacred Stones.
- Join the Standing Rock Sangha (Google Group) for friends in the Dharma who wish to coordinate travel and meet up in the area.
- See this FAQ from Sacred Stone Camp for details.
- Get the latest on how you can support the Water Protectors at the Camp of the Sacred Stones website. Here are some current actions listed there:
- Assist those who are facing legal fees by contributing to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defence Fund.
- Donate to support the Camp of the Sacred Stones general fund.
- Donate items to the Sacred Stone Camp Supply List
- Support those in residence at the protest by contributing to the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme initiative.
- Track events and further calls for support on social media:
- Facebook: Camp of the Sacred Stone, Red Warrior Camp.
- Twitter: NoDAPL, Camp of the Sacred Stone, Red Warrior Camp.
- Websites: NoDAPL, Camp of the Sacred Stone, No DAPL Solidarity (Red Warrior Camp).
This collaborative statement and references – inspired by statements of support from various faith traditions – was written and compiled by representatives Rev. Jayna Gieber of the Earth Holder Sangha in the Plum Village Tradition of Thích Nhất Hạnh, Kristin Barker, director of One Earth Sangha with input from consultants, Buddhist teacher Thanissara, Katie Loncke, and Dawn Haney, co-directors of Buddhist Peace Fellowship, indigenous leader Steve Llanes and Dharma teacher and director of the University of Washington’s Center for Indigenous Health Research, Bonnie Duran.