This article appears in full on The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California website.
The Rev. Lewis “Sitting Panther” Powell has traveled all over the world. Recently, as the Native American missioner for the Diocese of Northern California, he journeyed to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in their peaceful protest over the Dakota Access pipeline, which has been scheduled to be constructed on sacred lands protected by treaties, as well as under the Missouri River just upstream of the reservation.
Even after all his travels, the deacon was awed by the sight of the flags of more than 300 indigenous tribes from all over the world.
And there was the flag of the Episcopal church, Powell said, flying as a sign that “the Native American community felt comfortable having that flag amidst the indigenous community flags.”
As Powell drove down from Bismarck, North Dakota toward the area where the protestors were camped along the Cannonball River, he was stopped at a checkpoint manned by four or five state police, fully armed. Powell was shocked by the show of firepower, but the police were friendly enough. “Do you know what’s going on down there?” they asked. When the deacon said he did, they waved him through. Though the encounter was peaceful, it put Powell in mind of what Presiding Bishop Curry had said a few days before – that Standing Rock might be our next Selma.