MADELINE COTTINGHAM

Standing Rock: The Protectors

Over 300 tribes from around the globe have come together to unite against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172 mile pipeline slated to carry crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to storage facilities in Illinois. Since April 2016 thousands of protesters, or Water Protectors as they prefer to be called, have set up camp at the site of the Missouri River crossing.

In response, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department along with various state and local law enforcement have utilized military-style weapons against the Water Protectors, which has lead to the numerous injuries and hospitalizations.

The $3.7 billion pipeline is nearly complete with its last stretch to run beneath the Missouri River, just upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation, which is their primary source for drinking water along with 17 million other people throughout the country. The route passes through land that was originally reserved for the Sioux in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

In many ways this resistance is both novel and a perpetuation of a tortured history. The scope of this communion of tribes has never been seen before, yet the endless fight of indigenous people to protect and maintain their land has been carved into America’s past.

2016