Erika Larsen
Edited by James Estrin

Greater Than a Pipeline


The resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota began with a few young people intent on reminding the world that "Water Is Life." Mni Wičoni. That message amplified and eventually tens of thousands of people gathered between April 2016-February 2017. I went to be close to the epicenter of that resistance, in search of those silent moments, where humanity has taught me the most. With the guidance of the Red Warrior Camp and their allies, a series of portraits was created. Many people are calling the collective of Water Protectors "The Resistance to the Black Snake," a reference to the sorrow and destruction caused by the pipeline. Erika Larsen.


Views from the side of the road leading up to the Standing Rock Camp.

Wanikiya Win Loud Hawk- Saves Lives Women
I come from the 1851 Treaty Territory of the great Lakota, Nakota and Dakota People
I am teacher of Lakota language
A mother
A woman

“As a Lakota woman we are the backbone of our nation and the women are the leaders of our today’s people. I love my way of life, I love being Lakota. I love being a mom, our culture, our language and our stories. Without water we could never do any of our ceremonies, we would not be alive. That is why I come here today, to our treaty territory, to stand with every nation that is here to stand up for the water. “

Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle
Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge
Resides and working on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
Pediatrician & Adolescent Medicine specialist
Mother and wife

“Save our children, Save our future, Save sacred places. We are here to protect our land and our water. Our thoughts for the future go seven generations.“

Signpost at Standing Rock.

Tara Houska
Anishinabe from Couchiching First Nation
Tribal attorney in Washington, D.C. and the National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth
Founding member of

“This is moment in which Indigenous people are saying no more, enough is enough. We know how it feels to have extractive industry projects threatening our communities and our drinking water and our children’s future. When these projects happen in America they happen out of site and out of mind and that usually falls to Indigenous people. I am here because we are people and water is life. “

George Pletnikoff, Jr.
Unangax (Aleut) from St Paul Island, Alaska
Part of Indigenous People's Power Project, a collective of Native activists from all over the world that provided daily direct action training to Standing Rock.

“We become one people of this land. Honoring our ancestor in that way. Honoring our posterity in that way. And we will continue to build this up, recollect it and pass it on to our next generations so we have hope to carry something on.”

Views from Standing Rock Camp.

Cody Hall
Spokesperson at that time for Red Warrior Camp
Hunkpapa Lakota from Sitting Bull
Minniconjou from Spotted Elk and Crazy Horse and Fools Crow
Cheyenne River Indian Reservation

“I feel that my ancestors are speaking through me to take these actions and take a stand. In the darkest of days, I revert back to how many ancestors felt and went through. There is no way I will give up hope and I will fight to the end just like my ancestors did. I am upholding that tradition given to me way before my time. It is an honor to carry this bloodline on and to keep fighting for my people in this present day.”

Sampson DeCrane
Mountain Crow from Prior, Montana
Ties the Bundles Clan
Child of the Whistling Waters

“This is awakening of the American Indian giant. This is just the beginning. The seeds have been planted by all nations and are now blossoming and becoming one, and that is happening here at Standing Rock.”

Winona Laduke
Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota
Executive director of Honor the Earth

“This is our time, you got a choice between water or oil, make the right choice.”

Krystal Two Bulls
Red Warrior Camp
Water Protector
Ogalala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne

“I am here because there was a call put out for warriors to come and protect the land and to protect the water, but when I arrived I realized I was being naïve. I realized this is much more than protecting the water. I was summonsed here by the water for something larger. We were all summonsed here for something larger.”

Krystal Two Bulls
Red Warrior Camp
Water Protector
Ogalala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne

Susana Sandoval
Purépecha de Michoacán, Mexico

Photographed in front of the Morton county Courthouse on the first day of the Standing Rock protest trials.

L: Issac 'Eagle' Weston"
Blackhills, South Dakota
Oglala Lakota
One of the new headsman of the new council fire

R: Shawn Turgeon
Rapid City, South Dakota
Sicanju Lakota from Rosebud

Chase Iron Eyes
Member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Member of the Lakota People's Law Project
Cofounder of the Native American news website Last Real Indians.
Candidate for the United States House of Representatives for North Dakota's at-large congressional district

“As the first Native American to run for congress in North Dakota, it is my hope to further our collective evolution as humans and as Americans.”

Savage Family
(savage from the root words salvaticus and salvage meaning of the woods)
Savage Family - H.G.S. - Higher Grounds of Struggle are a collective of Indigenous mc’s, lyricists, and producers that believe in resistance that exists with or without us, and with or without a name.
Savage Family, HGS represents the voice of our people, a people that have been ignored and unheard for years.
We are the Forgotten, the people without names, faces, and voices.
We are sacred in our imposed silence, however, and we will be silent no longer.
Savage Family, HGS has been given the ability to speak through music - HIP HOP.
Savage Family was not founded or established by one person or a particular group of people, it is in our Indigenous brothers and sisters worldwide and the ideologies that have driven our peoples since time immemorial.

“One does not wait for all the conditions to be right to start the revolution the revolution itself will make the conditions right.”

“Black Snake Killer – It is not a creation of one person, it is not a label, it is literally an idea. We are here to kill the black snake. The black snake is the pipeline and it is not just this pipeline, it is all the pipelines. When we talk about the pipelines we mean all unnatural, man made things on this land that includes borders and the idea of owning territory and land. Black Snake Killer – is really saying I am not going to make friends with the black snake, I am not going to reform the black snake, we are not here to befriend politicians, we are not here to change the rules of how the water will be poisoned. We are here to literally stop the pipeline and win. I am here."

Ella Mendoza
Undocumented educator, facilitator, visual artist, and writer
Black Snake Killer
Originally from the Quechua region of so called Peru