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We Are All Related: Solidarity NOW with Indigenous Water Protectors

This Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) was adopted almost unanimously by Unitarian Universalists from around the world on June 24, 2018.


We, the 57th General Assembly of the UUA, which is meeting in Kansas City on the banks of the Missouri River, call for ongoing solidarity with Indigenous Water Protectors because:

Indigenous peoples of this continent lived by traditions that maintained ecological balance for thousands of years before colonization.

Colonization is an oppressive system that values resource extraction over life itself and is directly linked to genocide of Indigenous peoples. This colonization involves sequestering Indigenous peoples on reservations, flooding Indigenous lands, incarcerating disproportionate numbers of Indigenous peoples, and other forms of oppression.

Lakota/Dakota/Nakota (Sioux) peoples rose up in prayerful action to oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Great Sioux Nation Treaty Land and to protect the Missouri River, which is the water source for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and millions downstream.

People from more than 300 Indigenous nations responded to the call at Standing Rock, as did allies of many colors, which created an intercultural community of transformation and prayerful resistance lasting for four seasons.

Unprecedented numbers of Unitarian Universalists, Indigenous and otherwise, were propelled by our values to respond to this call for solidarity and were generally welcomed as relatives.

Unitarian Universalists play a unique role among faith communities, forming strong bonds as relatives with Indigenous Water Protectors, in North Dakota’s atmosphere of antagonism.

Seven Indigenous Water Protectors face federal charges in Bismarck-Mandan. A National Jury Project randomized survey concluded that 77% of the jury-eligible population in Morton County and 85% in Burleigh County have already decided the Water Protectors are guilty, yet requests to change trial venues have been denied.

Efforts to colonize Indigenous peoples are now resulting in federal prison sentences for Water Protectors, interrupting familial and communal bonds, as well as traditional spiritual practices and ways of life.


As Unitarian Universalists:

  1. We express our gratitude to Standing Rock, Sacred Stone Camp, Oceti Sakowin Camp, Sicangu Rosebud Camp, and associated camps for welcoming us as relatives and affirming that all people belong to the human family.
  2. We affirm solidarity with Water Protectors, including defendants, inmates, and their loved ones.
  3. We pledge our direct and tangible support for local Indigenous movements that seek to protect the environment and restore traditional Indigenous ways of life.
  4. As people, congregations, and a wider association, we commit to extend relationships of solidarity with Water Protectors, leveraging our spiritual, financial, human, and infrastructural resources in support of Water Protectors, especially those who face ongoing charges and prison sentences, and their loved ones.
  5. We ask the UUA to supply materials and guidance -- such as curriculum development, educational materials, and support for networking among UUs to work in solidarity with Water Protectors -- to help implement this Action of Immediate Witness.



This AIW honors the Indigenous-led Water Protector movement at Standing Rock & Oceti Sakowin Camp as a prayerful example of resistance to the general crisis of the earth, as well as of the rights of Indigenous peoples to control their own destiny. It calls on UUs to engage in continued education, reflection, and solidarity, especially considering the human rights violations of Indigenous Water Protectors who now face federal imprisonment.

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  October 2020  
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