Why Standing Rock is Still the Frontline for Policy Reform


Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell;

And in the lowest deep a lower deep

Still threatning to devour me opens wide,

To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav’n.

John Milton — Paradise Lost, Book 3.

Approaching the Bear

In the first week of his presidency, Donald J. Trump released a memorandum to expedite the permitting process of Dakota Access. Standing Rock has become a uniquely potent leverage point against the policies of the Trump Administration. Offshoots are popping up around the world. Public opinion is largely in favor of rerouting Dakota Access. In light of Trump’s memorandum on Dakota Access, the Honorable Judge James E. Boasberg will hold a review of the easement denial and instatement of the EIS on January 30th.

In camp, the spirits were like embers beneath the dry twigs of this news. The flags lifted in a faint breeze coming out of the north. My friend Little Crow and I wander the blue icy streets looking for stories to tell the world. Continue reading

Psy-Ops and Cyber Attacks at Standing Rock

Part I: Haunted Technology

Technician setting up wifi in Oceti Sakwoin.

Connecting to the internet in Standing Rock is a difficult task. Most people have been using cellular data from a single hill, named “Facebook Hill”, in the west of camp. Unfortunately, the signal has been weak and is suspected of being interfered with by unknown parties. If there is a real need for wifi, people head to the casino 10 minutes south by car.

Not being a technologist myself, I spoke to Lisha Sterling from Geeks Without Bounds in order to understand what is happening and who is responsible. GWB works to support humanitarian causes with open-source technology, hackathons and accelerator programs that deploy solutions (“hacks”) into conflict situations. Sterling has a background in technology reaching back to 1993 and has degrees in Latin American Studies and Migration Studies. GWB is a merger of her humanitarian work and technology background. Upon arrival to Standing Rock, her phone crashed. I asked Sterling to help me understand what might be causing our cell phones to be acting up.

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The Front

“Let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution…”

-Benjamin Franklin

All photos accredited to Elizabeth George.


It was after dark on the evening of November 20th when someone cried out, “All Water Protectors to the barricade!” I turned to the camp cook and said, “I’ll clean my bowl when I get back.” This was the best food in camp. The chef was a former computer programmer who had gone luddite. He wore a scuffed red cowboy shirt with pearl snaps. He didn’t use Federal Reserve currency and he wore blue blockers to stop the floodlights in the north, set up over the Dakota Access Pipeline, from affecting his pineal gland and serotonin levels. But the soup – amazing. It could have anything in it. Venison, bison, elk, and every vegetable if it made sense. He only used good, pink salt, and too much coriander. But the spice was perfect.

I jumped in a random car and headed to the barricade.

The road veered left towards the bridge passing over the Cannon Ball River. Cars were haphazardly parked along the shoulders. People were walking to the front. I rounded the bend and saw the soft blue floodlights shining down onto a mob of water protectors standing on the bridge. The barricade was two army troop carriers left in place on the far side of the bridge. I pulled out my camera and started capturing.

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