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The Fight Continues

Ruth Iorio Fowler
Water protectors push their bike up a hill in an effort to evacuate Rosebud Camp before Federal and state authorities (seen in the distance far right) move over the Cannonball River from Oceti Sakowin into the neighboring protest camps. Rosebud Camp, Cannonball, North Dakota Thursday February 23rd, 2017. Ruth Iorio Fowler

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Guard dogs and tear gas. Water cannons and rubber bullets. Triumph gained and triumph lost. After eleven months of protesting against the location of the Dakota Access Pipeline, adversity is no stranger to The Standing Rock Water Protectors.

The pipeline has faced fierce opposition since its construction has been rerouted from Bismarck to underneath the Missouri River — placing it within half a mile of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. The Oceti Sakowin camp in CannonBall, North Dakota has since become the epicenter of an earthshaking series of events.

While North Dakota’s white winters pale optimism, protesters also face their own opposition. Peace and hope can seem like useless weapons when critics deem a cause unworthy and unnecessary.

Then, victory arrives in the form of an executive order: The Obama Administration orders a halt to all construction on the pipeline and, in doing so, validates their fight. However, with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the camp waited with bated breaths. With the new administration, how long would the camp’s relief last for?

Since Trump signed an executive memorandum that instructed the Army to expedite the review and approval process for the unbuilt section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, construction has resumed, militarized and armed authorities have joined forces to evacuate Oceti Sakowin camp, the seven councils have split, and a new camp at Cheyenne River has opened less than a mile away from Oceti and Sacred Stone.

However many pitfalls they fall through, adversity is still no stranger to these Water Protectors. What may seem like the beginning of an end, elder Johnny Aseron of the Cheyenne River tribe sees an ongoing battle. “We come together, and then we drift apart,” he said. “It’s the way of our people. Nothing has ended.”

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