Since April, “water protectors” have been camped out near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, in protest of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). Supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe maintain that the pipeline’s development will not only uproot sacred burial ground, it may potentially contaminate the Missouri river. In addition, the tribe insists that the land belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe due to an 1851 treaty which was never revoked.
In recent months, tension has escalated between law enforcement workers and thousands of activists (including individuals from over 300 tribes from around the world). Protestors have been maced, tased, beaten with batons, shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, and even hosed down with water cannons in freezing temperatures. Because of the brutality that’s been witnessed, 2,000+ veterans recently arrived at the Sacred Stone camp to show solidarity for the indigenous as well as to help activists who are present prepare for the winter.
Though North Dakota’s governor issued a mandatory evacuation on December 5th, water protectors remain on site and have told the press that they will not leave until the pipeline is halted completely or re-routed. Their fierce opposition has inspired hundreds of thousands around the world to call out corporate greed and demand that the Native Americans be respected by the U.S. military for the first time in approximately two hundred years.
On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement to Dakota Energy Transfers – the parent company responsible for the DAPL. At this news, cheers rang out in the camp. It seemed the standoff was finally over. However, a statement by the company soon made it clear that the construction will continue through the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s land – despite the federal mandate from the Obama Administration.
Water protectors are now urged to remain in North Dakota – where temperatures are presently below 0 degrees F – and to be safe as prayer is invoked and legislative action is taken. To grasp just how important this movement is for not only the indigenous but activists involved, scroll through the following photos which were captured by several talented photographers. This issue is far from over, and the determination and spirit which is evident in the people gathered near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, can be witnessed in the following photographs:
1) Veterans Arrive
“U.S. Army veteran Zhooniya Ogitchida spray paints a sign for the veterans headquarters tent at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Dec. 3, 2016, on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation near Cannon Ball, N.D.”
2) Indigenous On Horseback
Activists on horseback pass through the Oceti Sakowin camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
3) Veterans Prepare
Vietnam Army veteran Dan Luker attends a briefing for fellow veterans at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
4) Flag Road
Flags flap in the wind on the main thoroughfare of Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Dec. 3, 2016, outside Cannon Ball, N.D., as Native Americans and activists from around the country gather at the camp trying to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
5) Preparing For Winter
An activist builds a temporary shelter at Oceti Sakowin camp.
6) Bright Night
People stand outside a dome used as a community center at Oceti Sakowin camp.
7) Smudging And Prayer
Angie Spencer performs a sage smudging on a military veteran at Oceti Sakowin camp.
8) Donations For Winter
Lindsey Denison volunteers to hang up donated clothes for the cold winter.
9) Chopping Firewood
Jonathan Shields, from Portland, Oregon, helps to cut firewood in front of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe tent at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
10) In It For The Long Haul
Travelers arrive at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline as they walk into a tent next to an upside-down American flag in Cannon Ball, N.D.
11) Caring For Camp
An activist staying at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation digs out from a snowfall.
12) Night Falls
Night falls on the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Sign post in snow at the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Military veterans stand on a closed bridge across from police protecting the Dakota Access oil pipeline site in Cannon Ball, N.D., on Dec. 1, 2016. Some veterans in North Dakota disagree with the 2,000 veterans planning to join a protest opposing the four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
15) Snow Angel
Army veteran James White, a member of the Lakota Native American tribe, makes a snow angel on a closed bridge during a protest across from police protecting the Dakota Access oil pipeline site in Cannon Ball, N.D.
16) Finding Time For Fun
The Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline stands in the background as a boy sleds down a hill in Cannon Ball, N.D.
17) Making The Best Of The Situation
Smokey, a member of the Sioux Native American tribe, rides Prophecy, a descendant of the horse belonging to war chief Crazy Horse, as he pulls a sled at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
18) Adapting To Camp Life
Loretta Reddog of Placerville, Calif., shovels a walkway to her tent while followed by her dog Gurdee Bean at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D., on Nov. 29, 2016. “I’m scared. I’m a California girl, you know?” said Reddog who arrived several months ago with her two dogs and has yet to adjust to the harsher climate.
19) Invoking Prayer
A person prays along the Cannonball River during a Native American water ceremony at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
20) Community Support
Opponents of the pipeline gather at the main protest camp near Cannon Ball, N.D.
21) Two Worlds
An indigenous girl looks through barbed wire toward police officers blocking Highway 1806.
via Earth Tribe