URI Stands with Standing Rock

3 October 2016, 10:21 AM
URI logo

Photo showing the day URI Global Council Trustees Elder Audri Scott Williams and Elder Phil Lane, Jr. read the statement of support and delivered the URI flag during events at the Standing Rock Camp.






Presented by URI Global Trustees and Elders Audri Scott Williams and Phil Lane Jr. on October 1, 2016 at Oceti Sakowin Camp, Cannon Ball, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Very Honorable Chairman Archambault, Sisters and Brothers of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, Community, and All Protectors of Mother Earth,

We are the United Religions Initiative (URI), a global grassroots network of 804 Interfaith Cooperation Circles in 96 Nations around Mother Earth. Our work reaches across religious and cultural divides, and from our inception in 2000, URI has recognized the fundamental importance of including the diverse voices of Indigenous wisdom-keepers and the full participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth in every dimension of our work. This importance is expressed in the first sentence of our Charter:

We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and Indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

In July 2014, URI convened its first Global Indigenous Initiative Gathering to guide our International work with Indigenous Peoples. At this historic Gathering, Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Leaders, including the Seventh Generation, from six continents, met together in prayerful consultation and outlined a Global Indigenous Mandate for unprecedented, unified action for Protecting and Restoring the Sacred:

  1. To support the global emergence of the “Seventh Generation”, as promised, by fostering youth participation, leadership and wisdom in all decision-making processes impacting all life on Mother Earth;
  2. To create Sacred Gardens to preserve, protect and perpetuate plant life and healing herbs central to Indigenous communities;
  3. To accurately depict Indigenous arts and cultures through the media as expressions of the Sacred;
  4. To protect and restore Sacred Sites for ceremonial use, and the repatriation of all cultural effects to their Indigenous Peoples of origin. 
  5. To galvanize connections with various global networks to mutually support the Global Indigenous Initiative and other Indigenous efforts world-wide;
  6. To stop the assault on Mother Earth by extractive industries that are destroying our waters and lands, and sacred sites, causing grievous imbalance to the natural laws of Mother Earth; and
  7. To facilitate decision-making by leaders that is good for seven generations into the future, known by Indigenous People as “seven generations” decision-making.

URI recognizes the honored and fundamental importance of embracing the ancient wisdom and leadership of Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth in manifesting Global Justice, Peace, Harmony and Prosperity. Globally, we are deeply moved by the prayerful and peaceful displays of Sovereignty, Strength and Unprecedented Unity of Indigenous Nations at Standing Rock in Protecting and Restoring our Sacred Mother Earth.

We stand with you in calling for the full implementation of free, prior and informed consent, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the standard set forth in all present and future Nation-to-Nation-consultative exchanges at Standing Rock, and affirm that these conditions be at the core of all consultative processes with Indigenous Nations and Peoples everywhere on Mother Earth.

We support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in its entirety and we are grateful to you and all those gathered alongside you who are implementing the spirit and intent of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through peaceful and prayerful action.

URI fully supports your Inherent Sovereignty and Self-Determination and the right of all Indigenous Peoples to fully express their spiritual and cultural traditions and to determine the life path of their communities.

We held the People of the Great Sioux Nation in prayer on Sept 3rd, as the world watched the destruction of sacred burial grounds and ceremonial sites used for countless generations by the Great Sioux Nation, unlawfully ravaged by Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC, in an act of economic and spiritual violence. This premeditated, unlawful action was perpetrated in complete disregard of evidence expressly provided to US Federal Courts by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation representative, Tim Mentz, Sr.

We affirm our support of the US Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act which mandates for the protection of native burial grounds; the American Indian Religious Freedom Act; and the United Nations International Treaties which protect Sacred Sites world-wide (such as the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, of which the US is a party).

We avow, under all conditions, that the US Constitution, as well as, the Inherent Sovereignty and Natural Laws of Indigenous Nations, protect the right of “Free Speech and Assembly.” Furthermore, that these Sacred Rights be upheld at Standing Rock and in its Territories, and that the Human Rights of those lawfully gathered should remain unimpeded by the threat and use of physical violence conducted by Para-Military, North Dakota State Police and National Guard.

We stand with our relatives at Standing Rock, a sacred place of prayer, ceremony and solidarity of the Human Family. Your prayers, ceremonies, faith and action have manifested an historic unprecedented unification of Indigenous Nations, Peoples and Members of the Human Family never before witnessed. You are a global inspiration for Peoples of all Nations who wish to maintain a way of life and spiritual traditions which respect the life-giving sacredness of the waters of Mother Earth on which all life depends.

We wish to express our gratitude and thanksgiving for all the First Nations and Tribal Peoples from across Turtle Island and Mother Earth who have rallied to stand behind you physically and for those who stand with you, in prayer and support from afar.  

URI commits its solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Great Sioux Nation in its efforts to become energy self-sufficient as it moves ahead to implement sustainable and renewable energy sources. The time has come to free ourselves from energy sources harmful to our Mother Earth and current and future generation. 

The Dakota Access Pipeline poses a serious threat to Sacred Sites and culturally significant locations throughout the Great Sioux Nation Territories and Beyond. We recognize that if the Dakota Access Pipeline construction proceeds ahead, it will continue to damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance as it crosses the ancestral lands of the Great Sioux Nation and beyond. All Members of the Human Family hold an inherent right to protect their ancestral lands, and it is with this understanding that we stand united in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Protecting and Restoring the Sacred. 

The United Religions Initiative will pray and stand beside Standing Rock as long as it takes for all Members of our Human Family to fully understand that your struggle is not only for the way of life of the Great Sioux Nation, but for the health, safety and well-being of all current and future generations of the Human Family and Life everywhere on Mother Earth!

Respectfully and in peace,

The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr.URI Executive Director                           

Elder Phil Lane, Jr., URI Global Council Trustee (At-Large)

Elder Audri Scott Williams, URI Global Council Trustee (representing URI Multiregion

URI Cooperation Circles are standing in solidarity with their brothers and sisters at Standing Rock:


Revivers of Indigenous Spirituality and Ecosystems (The RISE Circle), a URI Multi-Region Cooperation Circle, will be Praying in Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Native American Day (formerly known as Columbus Day in the US) and invites you to join them.


group photo

Hereditary Chief and Elder Chief Phil Lane Jr., of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations (2nd from the right), stands with a group of supporters at the Standing Rock Camp

group photo

URI Global Trustees Elder Audri Scott Williams and Elder Phil Lane Jr. with Ryan, a LowCarbon Crossings cyclist biking across the country to raise awareness about low-carbon energy sources

group photo