Water is Life
Among the snow-covered teepees and burning embers of the campfire, a strong communal chant can be heard echoing over the grassy plains of North Dakota. “Mni wiconi,” which means, “Water is life” in the Lakota language, is just one of the rallying cries of the protesters—or more appropriately—water protectors fighting to save their sacred land. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a $3.8 billion project from Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), is designed to move 570,000 tons of crude oil per day from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The 1172-mile trip, which traverses directly through reservation grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is argued by some to be a safer option than transporting it by rail. What began as a small protest camp in April has since transformed into an encampment with thousands of people, 300 tribes and supporters from all over the world. The #NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline) movement, supported by the Standing Rock Sioux, claims that the pipeline will directly impact ancestral treaty lands and will threaten the water supply for the neighboring reservation— especially if there is a spill.
Documenting the #NoDAPL movement, Toronto-based photojournalist Nick Kozak camped out at the Oceti Sakowin Camp between November 23rd and December 6th in an effort to shed light on indigenous people’s continued fight for recognition and retribution. As the number of supporters grew, so did clashes between protesters and local law enforcement. Police employed such tactics as pepper spraying, water cannons, and even dogs to disperse the peaceful water protectors.
Written by Chris Ames, ViewFind