Protests are taking place across the country today at the offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as activists seek to convince the agency to reject the Dakota Access Pipeline. Late last night, the Corps announced that it was still consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe about the pipeline and its route, and that while it did so, construction near or under the Missouri River was explicitly not allowed.
Among the tens of thousands of people who have joined this now historic struggle to protect the water and land of the Sioux is one young woman I met in North Dakota on Nov. 5 at Oceti Sakowin, the main camp of the self-described “water protectors.” In our talk, she revealed deep convictions and sacrifices that she has made as part of this effort, which she is in for the long haul. I found her story emblematic of the larger movement, and instructive as to why it has had such remarkable reach and staying power.
Rana is a diminutive 26-year-old from Chicago, with brown skin, brown hair, and gentle yet wary brown eyes. She is a descendent of the P’urhépecha indigenous people of Mexico. When we met, she was trying (unsuccessfully) to retrieve items taken by police during a now-infamous Oct. 27 raid that resulted in the forcible removal of two water protector camps that had been located directly on top of the Dakota Access Pipeline route. More>