"Beyond the Pipeline" documents the daily lives of water protectors in North Dakota as they resist the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Interviews by Kate Bould. Published by i-D, December 2016.
[T]his is all about stopping the pipeline. But even beyond that, I think there's a larger goal. I've talked to some fellow indigenous allies, and what I would say — and what I'm hearing from multiple people — is that we're also here to strengthen all of our nations and the power that comes from this. There's a lot of healing that needs to happen in Indian Country and I think that this is all part of it. All of these nations coming together, standing up together, saying we are powerful, and we've been here, and we've resisted, and we survived, and we're still surviving, and we're very much alive, we're not a myth. The unity and power from this camp is so amazing and important.
Harmony Lambert, 27
What would you like to say to the public?
Well, first of all, I never liked the media. But now I'm starting to realize that there's good media, like you guys, because you guys are getting the right word out, instead of them saying that we're a bunch of protesting terrorists on our own land. Ya know? That's just stupid.
But the first thing I wanna say, is that you have to come here and see for yourself. You feel everybody's energy, you feel everybody's presence here. It's very heartwarming cause out in the streets, when I walk around, people don't even say hello or smile, but here it's like that all the time. I don't know; it's really touching because I never was a people person, but now I'm realizing, I don't know, this is home. This is like my spirit home, you know?
Anything else you want to say?
First of all, I don't agree with Trump being in office. And second, I don't agree with Trump being in office. And third, I don't agree with Trump being in office.
Frankie Tso Junior, 19
I just think it's wrong, you know, what they're doing. What American greed does to people, does to my reservation. But just being here, the experience, meeting everyone, it's nice to know that there are a lot of people to support us, to support Standing Rock. I feel like I'm really proud that we were the last nation, and the first to bring all these people back together.
Mercedes Halsana, 25
Our spirits do not have boundaries. Our spirits come from the oneness. So it's a testimony that you see every color as you turn your head, and what even makes it more enriching is that you're young. It's no longer the elders or somebody that has to have a high-stature age category to stand up for us. We smile upon you because your ancestors are within you. And how do you know that your ancestors are within you? You carry the water and the water has memory. You have their DNA. So when you feel alone, you're not. When you feel weak, you get this awakening of your ancestors in you that says you're not alone. We have survived since the beginning of time and we're gonna continue that survival. Does that make sense? So every time you feel defeated, [you] touch your stomach, you close your eyes, you pry, you feel that water because those are the memories of your ancestors, speaking to you, watering this plant, so you can be fully nourished to do what you have to do. So you can keep those future generations whispering their names from years before.
We will prevail. Water is life.
Most full-blooded Lakota, like me, were traumatized by the boarding school era. Reservation life is hopeless with a lack of opportunity. Messed up roads, long miles in-between communities with little or no services. Federal funds are limited, with so many strings attached, we can hardly use the money. There is so much death from suicide, kidney failure, cancer. But we survive. We make the best of it. We cling to our culture. Our language is dying but we are protecting it. Our environment is threatened by carcinogenic contamination from mercury, arsenic, and other chemicals used in oil pipelines, gold extraction. All of this is our environment, but we live on. We must.
Raymond Uses the Knife, 60
Where are you from?
I'm a member of the Oglala tribe. I got here in early September. I plan on staying until we defeat the black snake.
I've heard a lot of people speaking about the black snake? What does it mean exactly?
They named it the black snake because there was a prophecy about this, and they talked about it, that we're going to have to a face a black snake someday. This was a long time ago, a hundred years ago, I forget who said it, but there was more than one Indian who prophezied this.
What's it like being a woman in camp?
It's a lot to take on. I'm here and taking care of my kid. I have to support myself and my daughter and that's pretty much the women's role here. I can't imagine the women with five kids, there's a woman here with six boys and a husband. So she has a man, and all her boys, and then she's running around being on the front line, then we have to cook, we have to take care of camp, a lot of us are cutting wood.
Ursula Young Bear
We all need to know, we are all pure and indigenous, our ancestors live and thrive within us. Every one of us.
Do you feel like there's anything about this particular movement, this camp, that is being miscommunicated by the media that you want to say something about?
I think the media isn't picking up that the matriarchs are very powerful in their message. They're having to fight through the patriarchal civilization, society, even within the Lakota nation, to get the message out. The message is: 'We give life and we want to continue to do that and the patriarchy is threatening that in every way.' As you know, war, stock markets, corporations — just about everything is coming from the patriarchy. We have to return to the matriarchy, and if you want to know the new age, this is the Age of Aquarius. Women have to start right at home.
And men need to support that.
Good men will follow great women.
Mauro Oliveira, 56
Lakota men, uncolonized, are incredibly respectful and amazing, as we all are, and so this place has enabled a man, an indigenous man, we only knew from the history books to emerge. It’s powerful and it’s amazing that we can stand together as equals, and we do.
Chaz Jewett, 44
There’s been five great extinctions and this one they’re calling ‘anthromorphic’ or ‘anthropocene.’ I’m not sure exactly how to put it, but it’s man-driven. It’s human-driven extinction.
We lost the Vaquita dolphin in 2006 and then the Baiji in China… there’s 300 hundred or less. The Vaquita porpoise, which lives in the sea of Cortez under California, there’s less than 30. The Maori and the Hector’s dolphins over in New Zealand, there’s less than 100. There are three northern white rhinos left on earth... The Javan Vietnamese rhino is extinct.
So what I’m saying is: the web of life is unweaving and it’s coming right at us... Half of planet earth’s species’ populations have been destroyed in four years of my fifty-six year life...
The word "warrior" is connoted with violence, but really, warriors now fight nonviolently. We fight in court and have lost many court battles because I fight corporations that win on lies and on money but I still fight. And that’s why I’m here. Because my children’s life is dependent on it.
Mauro Oliveira, 56
For five hundred years, Indian people’s voices and tribes and traditions and philosophies have been ignored and it’s time, it’s way past time, for us to be able to practice our religion, to be free and natural people in this country… We wanna be able to live in peace.
Chaz Jewett, 44
One day we got a phone call. My nephew got run over at the Pow Wow. Fifteen minutes later... he died in my brother's arms. If he was alive today, he would be here with me right now. Today is his birthday... Right now, it's kind of a hard time, but I want to do that to honor him. I wanna sing two songs: the one we made and then one for his birthday.