Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

A report on 2 reports from Standing Rock

Rev. Anastassia Zinke is Minister at All Souls Universalist Unitarian Church in Indianapolis (and a CIC board member). Steven Lee is Marine vet who won fame in Indy as Spanish language rapper Guero Loco and who now campaigns for deported vets and teaches in schools. Guero was one of thousands of veterans who came to Standing Rock to show their support for the indigenous people. Anastassia went to Standing Rock as a chaplain for the vets. On January 5 they shared how their experiences at Standing Rock changed their lives, and how the protests may contribute to change in America.

IRSC member Jordan Thomas files this report.

Can the power of nonviolent love trump the violence in this world? Can standing in peace and prayer actually win, or will we just be bulldozed over?

At Standing Rock, prayer and peace worked. Anastassia saw it happen. It would have been so easy for the pipeline to be finished in the normal order of things, as those projects are often rapidly completed over the country. But even though the only opposition was a large group of people standing in peaceful protest and prayer, the project was not finished.

“Peaceful civic disobedience” — a phrase we should all get comfortable with in the political climate that is and will be 2017.

At the camp, every morning started with prayer. Every day a training in nonviolent direct action took place. This is a way of life for these people, and they are an example to all of us of a positive way to react when you are treated as if your life does not matter.

The leaders of the camp wouldn’t even let their people showboat their celebrations of the victory. They quietly linked arms to form a barrier and guided people away from the bridge and farther into the camp. Amidst the celebrations, one of the female leaders told Anastassia, “this is a moment when we can forgive.” Not only did they embrace celebration, but they saw the respite from struggle as a time to rid their own spirits and bodies of the conflict.

Even as they celebrated, they knew that their work wasn’t done. It was not a, “let’s celebrate and go home,” no, but a sort of, “okay, let’s finish this thing.”

Two of Steven Lee’s greatest takeaways as a veteran experiencing Standing Rock:

  1. The hearts of the Standing Rock people were the most generous he had ever experienced. Even though reservations such as Standing Rock are some of the poorest communities in the United States, he saw people daily giving away their own coats, gloves, cigarettes, and more.
  2. When we come together in unity as normal, civilian people, we cannot be stopped.

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