Standing Rock and Cherokee Spirituality


The ongoing indigenous-led protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota is perhaps the largest and most diverse tribal action in a century or more. Standing Rock has captivated the attention of people throughout the world, including people of diverse faiths who have joined the prayerful struggle not only for the protection of water but for indigenous sovereignty.

A number of CCA members and friends have been active on this issue, and have even traveled to be part of the prayer camp there. Former Board member Franciscan Sister Ann Quinn was among a number of Catholic sisters traveling to Standing Rock from Montana where she now lives and works. And our friend Nic Cochran, a Catholic Worker from Wheeling, is now back at Standing Rock for a second period of time.

As Nic stated in an interview posted at Ignatian Solidarity Network,

Being there as a Catholic is important to me. The more Catholics that are there I think is important as well, [in order] to say we know that we have been a part of that oppression. […] We have an obligation to be a loving presence. […] If you can’t come or provide material support, pray. Everyone can pray.

Another thing we can do is continually learn more about the histories of indigenous peoples and their ongoing struggles with settler colonial populations, as well as how differing worldviews and spiritualities are part of this story of both injustice and liberation. For several years now, CCA has co-sponsored a retreat on Cherokee spirituality, held each March in Cherokee, NC. This year’s retreat, Walking our Spiritual Paths: An Introduction to the Spirituality of the Cherokee People, is March 7-12, 2017. Organized by Mary Herr and Fr. John Rausch and co-sponsored by Appalachian Ministries Education Resource Center (AMERC), this five day retreat offers participants the opportunity to learn about the spirituality and worldview of the Cherokee People with Native American presenters. For more information on the retreat, click here.

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