Katherine Wiltenburg TodrysSep 1, 2021
Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Justice
University of Nebraska Press 2021
The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) made headlines around the world in 2016. Supporters called the pipeline key to safely transporting American oil from the Bakken oil fields of the northern plains to markets nationwide, essential to both national security and prosperity. Native activists named it the "black snake," referring to an ancient prophecy about a terrible snake that would one day devour the earth. Activists rallied near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota for months in opposition to DAPL, winning an unprecedented but temporary victory before the federal government ultimately permitted the pipeline. Oil began flowing on June 1, 2017.
The water protector camps drew global support and united more than three hundred tribes in perhaps the largest Native alliance in U.S. history. While it faced violent opposition, the peaceful movement against DAPL has become one of the most crucial human rights movements of our time.
Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys' book Black Snake: Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Justice (U Nebraska Press, 2021) is the story of four leaders--LaDonna Allard, Jasilyn Charger, Lisa DeVille, and Kandi White--and their fight against the pipeline. It is the story of Native nations combating environmental injustice and longtime discrimination and rebuilding their communities. It is the story of a new generation of environmental activists, galvanized at Standing Rock, becoming the protectors of America's natural resources.
Ryan Driskell Tate writes on fossil fuels, climate change, and the American West. He holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, and is completing a book on fossil fuel development in the Powder River Basin.