For the past several months, elders of the Lakota Nation have been peacefully leading the occupation of Standing Rock -- the homeland of the Standing Rock Sioux Native American people -- in protest of the construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline across their sacred land. Currently, eminent domain laws permit the North Dakota Access Pipeline to be constructed along an existing power corridor, linking the southern states to the north, but also crossing sacred land belonging to the Lakota nation. At present, more than 2000 "water protectors"-- including members of various tribes from across North and Central America, veterans of the United States military, and allied civilian citizens of the United States, including the Burning Man organization Red Warrior Camp -- are occupying the Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock, in solidarity with the Lakota Nation. At present, the pipeline is routed across a river that, if dammed for construction, would greatly harm the food chain relied on by the native people of the region, and could carry contamination from a pipeline leak south across the entire continent.
Yet, despite leading a completely nonviolent protest, they are being responded to by local and state police forces using military equipment and tactics. At present, more than 400 tribe members and allies are unable to post bail after being arrested in nonviolent action, and are still imprisoned for participating peacefully. Many of these prisoners were held in kennels while awaiting transport to out of state prisons. I arrived at camp the day after the largest and most chaotic police interaction to date, and spent the weekend as a guest of the Lakota Elders at Sacred Stone. I was granted permission to photograph subjects in the camp, where a winterization effort is underway while camp members await instructions for the next peaceful action from tribal elders. I was also invited to photograph a peaceful action of forgiveness, in which an estimated 2000 people marched across 1.5 miles in nearby Mandan, North Dakota, to surround the local police department in a circle of prayer and forgiveness. I was asked in return to carry the message of what I saw-- that the Lakota Nation and its allies are occupying Standing Rock in peace, and that their actions towards the police and US government are peaceful.