People of Faith Raise Prayers with Oak Flat

On 4 November, people of faith gathered in prayer at Oak Flat (Chi’chil Biłdagoteel), a sacred site of the Apache people, to pray to save the land from destruction by Resolution Copper and commit to reweaving the sacred hoop of life.
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a sign with signposts held up by rocks on Oak Flat land that reads "Oak Flat Prayer Rising"

The earth is sacred. Water is life. We are creatures of the earth, and the earth is part of us. We are not separate from the land, but live in relationships of reciprocity with the rest of creation. These are truths that can and should bring people of many traditions together.

On 4 November, members of CPT’s Turtle Island Solidarity Network joined Apache Stronghold and many other people of faith for a Day of Prayer to save Oak Flat (Chi’chil Biłdagoteel). 

Apache Stronghold leader Dr. Wendsler Nosie described the gap that colonization and capitalism has torn in the sacred circle, the hoop of life.  He led the morning of prayer-rising as Indigenous people prayed according to their ways, urging settlers to step up and take our place in the circle, to repair the breach.  

Then Dr. Nosie offered the gift of a basket of tobacco, an embodiment of settler people of faith and of Spirit receiving the sacred trust and responsibility of stepping up into that gap.  On behalf of settler people of faith and Spirit, CPT member Rev. Carol Rose accepted this gift. 

The afternoon prayers rose from settler people of Spirit and faith responding to the call to encounter the Holy and to confront, through prayer and action, the forces of destruction brought by Resolution Copper. We prayed for forgiveness for how our economic systems have harmed the Earth, and for healing and transformation within these systems and among all people, so that human and more-than-human kin will have a livable future.

This prayer at Oak Flat was held in Spirit by communities of faith across Turtle Island and beyond  As people gathered at Oak Flat disperse, we must sustain our prayers and join this commitment. Those of us who are settlers on Turtle Island have much work to do to dismantle the structures and ideologies of colonialism that alienate us from the land and from the people of the land.  That spiritual work includes many very active steps, all bathed in prayer. May we pray without ceasing until these relationships are healed.  

We share a prayer written by Frank Scoffield of Pasadena Mennonite Church from the Prayer-Rising Toolkit published by the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery:

Creator of land and life, 
you made us one, 
sharing in breath, spirit and flesh, 
all creation tenderly held together, 
animal, person, water, land, wind, fire. 
For this we give you thanks! 

But many of us have torn creation apart, 
turning land and life 
into property and commodity 
into something to buy and sell, 
to purchase and consume, 
to trade and speculate on, 
to invest in and profit from. 
For this we ask: forgive us, and turn us from our wicked ways! 

Even if only some of us made this violent world, most of us are captive to it now. 
How do we escape the settler-colonial state? 
How do we undo the capitalist economy? 
How do we defend life and not destroy life? 
We cannot do this alone. 
We need each other. 
Guide us, Creator, into new life.

Today, we pray for Chi’chil Biłdagoteel (Oak Flat).
Deliver Oak Flat from evil 
and defend her from the wicked. 
Today, we pray for Apache Stronghold.
Blow the mighty breath of your Spirit 
into their lungs, 
filling them with power 
in the sacred struggle to defend life. 
Today, we ask that all 
voices, actions and prayers 
in defense of land and life, 
from the past, present, and future 
may become one. 

Creator, may the fire of your Spirit fall upon us.
May our hearts beat as one. 
May our minds think as one. 
May our flesh feel as one. 
May our actions move as one. 
May our life be one. 
Amen.

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