The Dominican Sisters Conference supports the Standing Rock Sioux in opposing the underground pipeline through North Dakota that would transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day through the state to South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. People who live in the region are concerned about water supply contamination, oil spills, and ecological destruction of sacred land.

The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids are members of the Dominican Sisters Conference, which represents nearly 6,000 Catholic Sisters and Associates. We stand in solidarity with the indigenous people in North Dakota whose sacred and historic land and water supply are being threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

This pipeline is a threat to Standing Rock Sioux’s Native heritage, their homes, and will be an ecological disaster for them as well as for many other farms and communities through which it will pass in North Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Moreover, we call into question the assertion that fracking is a safe means of extracting and transporting fossil fuels, having witnessed earthquakes in places like Kansas and seen the effects of past spills.

We deplore the reports of violence perpetrated by armed private security forces on peaceful protesters who were unarmed and posed no immediate physical threat. Using biting dogs and pepper spray was out of proportion and an unnecessary attack on innocent people exercising their first amendment rights of free speech.

Pope Francis leads us in our stand for both the sacredness of our Native Peoples’ lands as well as the sacredness of Earth. We stand with him as he speaks out for those who are institutionally and systematically marginalized. In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, he wrote: “Everyday experience and scientific research shows that the greatest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest”(48).

We, the Dominican Sisters Conference, oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline that, if constructed, will carry fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting under the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and endangering not only the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux’s people, but all of those downstream who depend on it. As Lakota Sioux Brave Heart, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, stated, “This water is not just for us. It’s for everyone and future generations.”