Protest, Protection, Spirit and Whiteness

From my teenage years I’ve been a student and tried to be a practitioner of the principles of nonviolence and civil disobedience. In the Quaker atmosphere of Scattergood Friends School I struggled with the decision every 18 year old male faces regarding registering with the Selective Service System. I chose the civil disobedience of draft resistance. Mine is one of the stories Don Laughlin collected, Quaker Young Men Face War and Conscription:!Avb9bFhezZpPiehsFVjPxK_gjjR4Ig?e=VdoY02

In 2013 I was trained by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to plan, organize and execute nonviolent direct actions as part of the national Keystone Pledge of Resistance. We held multiple rallies to try to bring attention to the Keystone Pipeline.

“Congratulations on completing your training this past weekend!  As an Action Lead, you are now a living, breathing, nonviolent threat to the Keystone XL Pipeline.  We at Rainforest Action Network are very glad you have stepped up, and ready to support you in your role.  All of us at Rainforest Action Network are honored to be working with you on this historic effort.  You inspire us.”

Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

RAN @RAN May 15
@ran activist @jakislin calls out @sendonnelly on willfully ignoring the dangers of #KXL #NoKXL

Since 2016, though, I have been learning about protection as opposed to protest. On becoming a water protector rather than a fossil fuel/pipeline protestor. Water protection is much more in line with my Quaker beliefs. Those beliefs have broadened and deepened as I learned more about our sacred connections to Mother Earth and all our relations.

Water protectors are activists, organizers, and cultural workers focused on the defense of the world’s water and water systems. The water protector name, analysis and style of activism arose from Indigenous communities in North America, during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, that began in April, 2016, in North Dakota.

However, the concept of protecting the water as a sacred duty is much older. Water protectors are distinguished from other forms of environmental activists by this philosophy and approach that is rooted in an Indigenous cultural perspective that sees water and the land as sacred.

From this perspective, the reasons for protection of water are older, more holistic, and integrated into a larger cultural and spiritual whole than in most modern forms of environmental activism which may be more based in seeing water and other extractive resources as commodities.


As I’ve become increasingly alarmed at the climate catastrophe we are rapidly moving into, and feeling we might be past the point of no return, I’ve been praying and searching for what to do now. I explore that in this PowerPoint presentation, Native and non-native peoples.

I’ve come to believe our hope to deal with environmental chaos will be found in spiritual practices, such as Quakerism and the spiritual and environmental ways of Native peoples.

In searching to make connections with Native people, I try to keep in mind that “whiteness” is a fundamental problem. One of the basic struggles in this country has been and continues to be the White colonization inflicted on Native peoples and people of color. I’ve learned one way to reduce these Whiteness influences is to listen very closely to, and follow the lead of Native peoples and people of color.

Though the work of other white environmental activists is incredibly important, this world still applauds, supports, encourages, and emulates ”whiteness” and the culture created out of the doctrine of discovery. Christine Nobiss

Let’s break the money cycle that stays in white circles

We are in this climate crisis together….but not all of us will be affected by this change in the same way. It is well known that Indigenous communities and communities of color everywhere are the most immediate recipients of climate change disaster. Greta Thunberg just arrived on the shores of the USA. Though her work and the work of other white environmental activists is incredibly important, this world still applauds, supports, encourages, and emulates ”whiteness” and the culture created out of the doctrine of discovery.

Imagine if the same amount of people made the same big deal about Indigenous youth from any of the tribal nations that are protecting 80% of the world’s biodiversity. What about Autumn Peltier, Wikwemikong First Nation, who began her advocacy for the environment and clean water at age 8? Why are US environmentalists and philanthropists falling over themselves for a Swedish activist when our people have been teaching our children these ways for hundreds of years? Our children have not only stood at the front lines repeatedly but have DIED PROTECTING our territories and our ways. We have some of the most dedicated youth in the world fighting in our own backyards against environmental disaster and climate change. Indigenous Peoples are not activists or environmentalists. Our work at the frontlines is motivated by deep ancestral ties to sacred landscapes and from first-hand effects of environmental racism.

Let’s look at the Indigenous Peoples that have survived genocide and continue to carry on their ways—ways which can save the world. Let’s look to our tribal nations for an Indigenous-led regenerative economy created through traditional ecological knowledge. An effective way we can protect, preserve and restore the climate is by seeing and taking the word of people who fight colonial oppression by tenaciously holding onto traditions that tell a different story about this planet.

Let’s get funds to Indigenous Peoples first. We have answers.

Christine Nobiss, Seeding Sovereignty

My friend Joshua Taflinger, who I worked with regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline in Indianapolis, expresses these connections between spirituality and activism.

I am inspired to share with you all more directly a post I wrote, because I consider you an established & effective nature/spiritual warrior, and believe that there is a need for the perspectives shared in the attached post to be more common thought in the minds of the many.

If you feel truth from this writing, and are inspired, I highly encourage you to re-write your own version, in your own words/perspectives, and post to your network.

With the intention of helping us all wake up, with awareness, clarity, and direction.

..spreading and weaving reality back into the world….

What has risen to the surface at Standing Rock is a physical/spiritual movement. Learn how to quiet your mind. To find the silent receptive space to receive guidance. To learn to adapt and follow the pull of synchronicity to guide you to where you will find your greatest support and strength.

What I have found in my time praying in the indigenous earth based ways, is that it’s not about putting your hands together and talking to god…. It’s about quieting and connecting with the baseline of creation, of nature. Tuning into the frequency and vibration of the natural world, the nature spirits. The beings and entities that have been in existence, for all of existence, the examples and realities of sustainability and harmony.

It’s about becoming receptive to these things. Being open and flowing with them. The spirit guides us, but we have to make ourselves receptive to feel, sense, and respond to this guidance.

Joshua Taflinger

There is a new art exhibit at Drake University named Visual Disobedience

The exhibit includes some photos from the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March.

This entry was posted in #NDAPL, Arts, civil disobedience, climate change, First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Indigenous, Keystone Pledge of Resistance, Native Americans, Quaker, Spiritual Warrior, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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