I am always cynical about when the famous join "environmental" protests and use their favorite "victim" group as a way to get themselves in the headlines. (and then leave to go to the next protest, leaving the locals behind to remain poor, either to be exploited, or to lack jobs that the exploitation would bring).
On the other hand, AmerIndians have gotten the shaft so many times by the government etc.
Did you ever hear about the largest class action lawsuit in the USA was about the BIA exploitation of AmerIndian lands and resources?
How about that huge EPA toxic waste spill in Navajo country, that contaminated their water?
So I just have been shrugging off the StandingRock protests as another usual story of Hollywood celebrities seeking to get their names in the headlines.
But GetReligion points out that although the usual idiots are there to get free publicity, that locals actually are opposing the pipeline for religious reasons.
and they report prayer meetings held in the area, led by Arvo Looking Horse.
again, lots of fake self appointed new ager gurus who claim to be religious leaders are in the news all the time.
But I happen to have met Mr. Looking Horse's father when I worked at a nearby reservation, and he was indeed a revered religious leader and a very holy man who was the traditional keeper of the sacred pipe. Since his death, his son Arvo has taken over his legacy. So he is a real religious leader of those following their traditional religion.
And presumably the "prayer circles" would include traditional believers, and also local Christians....
Most of the local Catholic (and Anglicans) see no problem with mixing Christianity with the beliefs of the wise men who follow the tradition of their ancestors, seeing Christianity as a way to know more about the God their ancestors worshiped. A famous example of this is St Kateri; another one would be Black Elk.
and knowing that "real" locals have a very real religious objection to the pipeline shows that the story might not be just another "being poor is good for mother Gaia" activist propaganda story.
The aggressive activists are part of the reason that a lot of us look askance at the upper middle class elitist environmental movement, who often see the ideal way to live is the life of the third world poor, or how their ancestors used to live: overlooking the reality of living in poverty.
but there is another story, a very real story, about how big business and government officials exploited and destroyed the land where poor people lived. Which is why I consider my self a supporter of environmental protection.