Water Protectors in Standing Rock Are Fighting For a Safer America

Young native woman rides a white and brown horse through a snow-covered parking lot/campground

At the Standing Rock Reservation between North and South Dakota, a community of Indigenous activists is working to protect water and water systems across the U.S.

They are known as Water Protectors: a group of cultural organizers who believe in the sacred nature of water and land. 

The launch of the Dakota Access Pipeline was what first brought significant public attention to these Indigenous activists.

The pipeline called for a system that would “connect the North Dakota shale oil fields with the eastern pipeline networks in Illinois,” which would subsequently lead to unclean drinking water and damaged farmland.

After hearing about the news of the DAPL, a tribe of Water Protectors joined with thousands of other Indigenous nations to speak out against it. 

According to National Geographic, in the summer of 2017, tribe members would come to camps around Cannon Ball, North Dakota in traditional Indigenous clothing.

They actively spoke against the implementation of the DAPL and more about their movement to protect the sacredness of water and land.

National Geographic explains that “it had become an international call to protect Indigenous people’s rights, and their land.” 

The group of activists and cultural leaders continue to fight for the protection of water and lands and its inherent sacredness.

While the Dakota Access Pipeline was built after the inauguration of former President Donald Trump, these Water Protectors in North America remain a force for good.

They were recently victorious in speaking out against The Keystone XL Pipeline, another crude oil infrastructure that was canceled on June 9, 2021.

The Water Protectors of Standing Rock remain hopeful that the power of community and cultural activism can make way for safe and efficient infrastructure, and in the process, remind us that water and land are ours to take care of.

A version of this story originally ran in The Water Edition of The Goodnewspaper in October 2020.

The Goodnewspaper is our monthly print newspaper filled with good news.

You can join thousands of subscribers who get access to more exclusive stories like these, our private community space, a free inspiring poster, and so much more.

Become a subscriber today.

Article Details

October 4, 2021 8:50 AM
Aria Mia Loberti stands in a classroom, with two braids in her hair, wearing a black t-shirt

Aria Mia Loberti, star of 'All The Light We Cannot See' is appointed as UNICEF ambassador

UNICEF has named Aria Mia Loberti, of "All The Light We Cannot See" as its newest ambassador. Her work focuses on education and climate justice.
An iPhone with a screenshot of a Spotify playlist including songs that feature NATURE

Earth (yes, the planet) will now receive streaming royalties when you listen to nature sounds on Spotify, Apple Music

Thanks to a project from UN Live, NATURE is now an official artist on major streaming platforms, using royalties to fund climate projects worldwide.
Illustrated shower, clock, and rain clouds

Cape Town Solved Their Water Crisis — Here’s What We Can Learn From Them

In 2018, after three years of poor rainfall and the worst droughts on record between 2015 and 2018, the city made the announcement “that drastic action was required to avoid running out of water entirely.” 
Illustration of Mari Copeny, Little Miss Flint, wearing a sash and a tiarra

Little Miss Flint Has Spent Her Life Fighting The Water Crisis

No, that isn't an exaggeration: since she was 12-years-old, the Flint native has been the face of Flint's water crisis — one that's still very much active today. 

Want to stay up-to-date on positive news?

The best email in your inbox.
Filled with the day’s best good news.