Yesterday, I watched footage of Dakota Access CEO Kelcy Warren proclaim that the pipeline will not be re-routed and that he is confident it will be finished. In a brazen moment of double-speak, he said the following about the safety of the pipeline, which is now 90% complete: "We're not going to have a leak. I can't promise that, of course, but that--no one would get on planes if they thought they were going to crash."
He continued by stating that the thousands of self-proclaimed "water protectors" are "not a peaceful protest". Having just returned from my second trip to Standing Rock as a volunteer with the Rosebud Tribe, I beg to differ.
What I have witnessed upon each journey is a gathering of both native and non-native residents from across the country gathering to build a sustainable community that clothes, feeds and shelters thousands, while simultaneously pursuing every legal route possible to stop a pipeline that will inevitably taint their drinking water. The fact that Native-Americans--some of the most under-represented and historically abused cultures in America--are leading this resistance, speaks volumes to the wisdom they are trying so desperately to share with us regarding prioritizing fiscal gain over environmental preservation.
I only just now went through the few photos I took during my first trip in September, and they only offer a glimpse of the community building at the various camps. At the time, the mainstream media was beginning to catch onto the rising number of people flocking from around the world to give support to the Sioux tribe of Standing Rock attempting to defeat the Dakota Access pipeline, also known as "The Black Snake".
Now, winter has descended upon the camps, and due to multiple infiltrations by saboteurs, photography has become much more stringent. The images shared here do not offer the full scope of the effort that goes into making the encampment function. Many things not pictured are simply too scared to be captured. Builders, doctors, healers, elders and lawyers are among the many that have offered their services to keep this growing population healthy and safe. My motivation for sharing these images is to discount Warren's entirely false proclamation that this gathering is anything but peaceful.
Perhaps this pipeline will be built. Our political leaders--particularly the new President Elect--seem reticent to interfere, despite the dramatic effects this pipeline may have on the environment in the short and long term should it burst, But I am confident the water protectors of Standing Rock will continue to resist with civil disobedience in the face of illegal construction, lawsuits, and prayer gatherings at the camp. This is far from over. It is only the beginning.