Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.
“The Native Leadership was calling me to fulfill the command of Jesus, they were calling me to fulfill my ordination vows. The Standing Rock movement was calling me to be a Christian.”
Pastor Benjamin Morris of Common Grounds Lutheran Campus Ministry (La Crosse, WI) shared these words following his time in Standing Rock. His words moved from my computer screen and lodged themselves deep in my heart. 
But I should back up.
One Friday morning I received a text message from Ben, inviting anyone from our community at the LCC to go to Standing Rock that Sunday. The meeting to organize would be held at noon. Those are all the details we had, and that is all LCC sophomore, Mariah Hoyt, needed in order to say "yes." She e-mailed her professors, packed a bag, and left for La Crosse to meet Ben and others who would be traveling to Standing Rock. 
A few weeks later, Mariah shared these words with us: 
"My experience at Standing Rock was unlike any other. In the short time I was there I was immersed into and exposed to a new culture, new ideas, and most importantly - a new outlook on how humans impact the world. We have to stand up and fight against big oil corporations to make it known that oil is NOT more important than water. This protest however, is about much more than stopping the pipeline; it is about protecting every human's basic rights. It is about treating every man, woman, and child with respect. It is about listening to the Native voices and requests that are often ignored and denied. Before leaving, I received warnings from loved ones that it would be dangerous and to be careful out there. However, when I arrived I quickly found out that it would be one of the most peaceful times of my life. My days there were spent praying, helping the Native people, listening to people's stories, and most importantly - standing in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock and all other native cultures. This experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of, and I will forever be thankful that I could physically be there and show my support in their fight. However, my job did not end when I left Standing Rock. I now must share my experience and educate others so they too can stand in solidarity with the Native people."

Photo credit to Alec Fischer
We are so thankful for Mariah's and Ben's presence at Standing Rock on behalf of all of us. I am so thankful for Ben's leadership and collaborative spirit. Thank you, too, for supporting the important work of advocacy and justice through the LCC.
Mni Wiconi – Water is Life. 
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