Between 2,000 and 3,000 members of interfaith religious groups from across the country are expected to converge in North Dakota Sunday at the site where protesters are trying to stop a pipeline that they say will threaten water resources and Native American sacred sites.
The representatives of United Religions Initiative, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, will take part in an Interfaith Day of Prayer at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, where members of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters have been trying to block a segment of the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline from threatening their land.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a representative of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota nations and a member of URI, Rev. Victor Kazanjian, URI executive director, and Rev. Karen Van Fossan of the Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in Bismarck, N.D., will lead the events that will start off with a sunrise ceremony and continue with interfaith prayers, a community lunch and group discussions, said Isabelle Ortega, URI director of communications.
“This is really what our peace-building efforts around the world are all about — it’s casting aside differences, seeing diversity as a strength,” Ortega said. “In the case of Standing Rock, different tribes that have been enemies for so long recognize there is an issue bigger than them.”
URI also has gathered prayers from supporters around the world and some of them will be read on Sunday, she said.
“This day of prayer is specifically focused on our common concern for the environment and protecting our precious planet and water, which is one of the issues that binds together the world’s spiritual traditions,” Kazanjian said.
The standoff has dragged on for months and drawn questions regarding violence by law enforcement against the protesters and what many see as a lack of media coverage of the dispute.
On Sunday, 2,000 veterans also are expected to join the protests at Standing Rock in an effort to give a break to those who have been protesting for months.
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