Cannon Ball, North Dakota //
In early 2016, approved construction of Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline - slated to run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois - spurred months of peaceful protests adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Many saw the proposed pipeline as a threat to clean water and the tribe’s ancient burial grounds, an issue that brought rise to a national conversation on environmental racism, cultural appropriation and indigenous rights. By mid-summer, the camp had grown to thousands of people.
In early November, winter arrived in full, dumping almost 2 feet of snow on the encampment within a few days in the season’s first blizzard. The storm hit just before news that then President-elect Donald Trump indicated his support of completion of the pipeline.
The two-day blizzard drove out some of the more fair-weather protesters, but many began gearing up for the long haul, with plans to stay through the harsh Dakota winter.
Shot on assignment for NPR.