Mennonite delegation shows solidarity at Standing Rock encampment

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Photo by Maria Thomas

Published on October 10, Indigenous People’s Day at themennonite.org.

Katerina Friesen is a recent graduate of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana. She is a writer and community builder, and currently serves as the interim pastor of Belmont Neighborhood Fellowship in Elkhart.

The largest gathering of Native American tribes in over a century is happening near Cannonball, North Dakota, about a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Tribes that were once divided are finding reconciliation and unity in a movement of nonviolent resistance to protect the sacred lands and waters of the Lakota Sioux.

From Sept. 16-23, I traveled there with a delegation of Mennonites from the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition to show support and solidarity with the thousands of people resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), slated to carry over 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken shale of North Dakota to refineries in Illinois, over 1,100 miles. Our delegation included Anita Amstutz, John Stoesz, Ken Gingerich, Maria Thomas, and I, stayed at the Sacred Stone Camp, the first of the three main camps where between 5,000–7,000 people were estimated to have camped during the week we visited. Continue reading

Freed from Fear to Shelter the Vulnerable

BCMBy Elaine Enns

Scripture:  “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear… For God will hide me in a shelter in the day of trouble.”  Psalm 27:3a, 5a

As babies, both Moses and Jesus were hidden away from danger during times of war and oppression by courageous caregivers. This archetypal script is also found in my family story, and perhaps in yours. My grandmother grew up in the Mennonite village of Osterwick, Ukraine. As a result of endemic injustice under the Tsar, the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, and civil war raged through the country. In Ukraine, a peasant army arose to fight for independence, but their methods were often brutal, including home invasions. In December 1919, my great-grandmother Anna Schulz’s house was commandeered for two weeks. The males of the house had to flee for their lives into the nearby forest, while my fifteen year-old grandmother, along with her sister and girl cousins, were hidden up in the attic. Anna proceeded to feed, clothe, and nurse the rough soldiers. In the face of terror, she committed her life to her Divine protector, and practiced non-violence. Continue reading

Workshopping Historical “Response-Ability” among Settlers

Elaine 2010By Elaine Enns, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. This piece was originally printed in Geez Magazine’s Decolonization Issue.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
cannot be unlived,
but if faced with courage,
need not be lived again.”
— Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of the Morning,” 1993

Facing painful history is indeed wrenching. In North America, we Settler descendants often avoid hard conversations about past and present relationships with Indigenous people. In my ethnic community, Mennonites in Saskatchewan, I have been exploring our resistances to “response-ability” in doctoral research, through interviews, focus groups and workshops. This piece summarizes two —selective memory and distortions in our communal narrative—which obscure the whole story and the truth that alone can lead to reconciliation. Continue reading