Cold feel­ings at Stand­ing rock

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - STO­RIES BY KEVIN SULLIVAN | PHO­TOS BY ZOEANN MUR­PHY

Te­pees and cars dot the snow­cov­ered Sa­cred Stone Camp, near Cannon Ball, N.D., where peo­ple are mak­ing their voices heard about the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line. To en­sure peace be­tween pro­test­ers and po­lice, the U.S. gov­ern­ment is dis­patch­ing me­di­a­tors.

From across the coun­try, they have come to this place called Cannon Ball. By the thou­sands. Na­tive Amer­i­cans and mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists. Po­lice from nine states. Movie stars. Cat­tle ranch­ers and lum­ber­jacks, col­lege stu­dents and nurses, land­scap­ers, in­vest­ment bankers and a wait­ress from a Florida joint called Smokey Bones.

All have been drawn by a 30-inch steel pipe that, in the un­likely set­ting of a des­o­late North Dakota prairie, has be­come a pow­er­ful sym­bol of her­itage and history, progress and op­pres­sion, in­dige­nous rights and cor­po­rate might.

In Amer­ica’s un­set­tled and an­gry win­ter of 2016, peo­ple on all sides of a frac­tious is­sue are here to make a stand and have their voices heard.

The Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line is a 1,170-mile, $3.8 bil­lion project to carry oil ex­tracted from rock through four states to re­finer­ies and pipe­line net­works in Illi­nois. It is more than 90 per­cent com­plete.

To its pro­po­nents, the pipe­line rep­re­sents Amer­ica’s en­ergy in­de­pen­dence, jobs and a com­mon-sense boost for the econ­omy. What hap­pens next also may of­fer an early glimpse of the pres­i­dency of Don­ald Trump, an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for re­mov­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal bar­ri­ers to U.S. en­ergy pro­duc­tion — and an in­vestor in an oil com­pany that owns a 25 per­cent stake in the pipe­line project.

To its op­po­nents, the pipe­line rep­re­sents the lat­est chap­ter in the na­tion’s long history of dis­re­spect and abuse of Na­tive Amer­i­cans. It runs within a half-mile of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux Reser­va­tion, and tribal lead­ers ar­gue that it threat­ens the drink­ing water for thou­sands of Na­tive Amer­i­cans and has caused the de­struc­tion of sa­cred ar­ti­facts and burial sites.

Since early 2016, pro­test­ers have oc­cu­pied a fed­er­ally owned site near the pipe­line’s pro­posed cross­ing un­der the Mis­souri River. Now, nearly 2,000 are liv­ing in tents, te­pees, yurts, RVs and cars. They are na­tive and non-na­tive, el­derly and new­borns. The camp has be­come so large and per­ma­nent that it has a book-swap li­brary and a med­i­cal cen­ter.

More than 560 peo­ple have been ar­rested. Pro­test­ers claim po­lice have bru­tal­ized them with tear gas, pep­per spray, rub­ber bul­lets, con­cus­sion grenades and water can­nons. Po­lice say they don’t pos­sess many of those weapons and that pro­test­ers have in­sti­gated vi­o­lence, pelt­ing of­fi­cers with rocks, bot­tles, burn­ing logs and bags of urine and fe­ces.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple (R) and the Army Corps of Engi­neers have or­dered pro­test­ers out of the camp, but they vow to re­main.

With the first snows of a bleak North Dakota win­ter threat­en­ing, The Wash­ing­ton Post vis­ited the area to record the per­sonal ac­counts of peo­ple on all sides of an is­sue that is tear­ing at the Amer­i­can heart­land.

Views from Stand­ing Rock For more videos and pho­tos from the prairie in North Dakota, visit wapo.st/stand­in­grock

NIMA TARADJI FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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