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Mni Wiconi. Water is life. These are the words that fueled protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation beginning in 2016. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) underneath Mni Sose, or the Missouri River, poses a direct threat to Standing Rock’s primary drinking source (Weston, para. 2). Recognizing that the federal and Tribal court systems would likely ignore their pleas, the people of Standing Rock joined together with members of their sister Tribes among the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), or Great Sioux Nation, to protect the drinking water from potential destruction. The movement encouraged indigenous people from around the world to join the Water Protectors—as they called themselves—in their efforts. Months of protest by the Oceti Sakowin people and indigenous and environmental activists brought world-wide attention to the movement and sparked a stream of social media posts with hashtags #NODAPL, #mniwiconi, #waterislife, and #rezpectourwater (Weston, para. 9). Thousands of people joined this Indigenous-led movement, participating in marches, encampments, relay runs, letter campaigns, elaborate banner drops, blockades, and more.


South Dakota State University


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