Podcast

The Roles of Art and Artists at the Pipeline Protests in North Dakota

Four artists at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota, have arrived to help stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. I interviewed them about the role of artists and art during protest.

Artists (left to right) Jesse Hazelit, Raven Chacon, Ryan , and Cannupa Hanska Luger in the Art Tent area of Oceti Sekawan Camp, Standing Rock.
Artists (left to right) Jesse Hazelip, Raven Chacon, Dylan McLaughlin, and Cannupa Hanska Luger in the Art Tent area of Oceti Sekawan Camp, Standing Rock. (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

UPDATE, Sunday, December 4, 4:12pm ET: The Army Corp. of Engineers has announced that they will not approve the permits required for the current Dakota Access Pipeline.

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This is the final podcast in our three-part series (1, 2) from Standing Rock, where thousands of waterprotectors and their allies have congregated to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A Native American protector facing police forces across the river who are installing barbed wire after taking over the area from protestors the night before.
A Native American protector facing police forces across the river who are installing barbed wire after taking over the area from protestors the night before.

The controversial pipeline was originally planned to cross the Missouri north of Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital, but the city protested for fear that it would contaminate their water supply. The pipeline was pushed down river right by the Standing Rock Reservation, which is one of the largest Native American reservations in the United States.

In the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the largest of the three camps, is a prominent art tent area. Dozens of artists and volunteers are silkscreening and producing work. Among those artists is Cannupa Hanska Luger, who grew up on Standing Rock. I spoke to him, along with three of his artist friends (Jesse Hazelip, Raven Chacon, and Dylan McLaughlin), who have joined him here at this request. We are presenting the raw, roughcut version of that roundtable interview with all four artists here because we wanted the artists to be able to share their thoughts in full. 

Artist Cannupa Hanska Luger working on a mirrored shield with artist Dylan McLaughlin in the background.
Artist Cannupa Hanska Luger working on a mirrored shield with artist Dylan McLaughlin in the background.

Just hours after my interview with the artists on Friday, November 25, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II, announced that the US Army Corp of Engineers would be closing public access to the camp. Two days later the US Army Corp of Engineers clarified its stance to a North Dakota television station and declared that: “Those who remain will be considered unauthorized and may be subject to citation under federal, state, or local laws.” Then on Wednesday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered the expulsion of thousands of Native American and environmental activists camped on federal property near the oil pipeline project. And now hundreds of veterans are arriving at the camps to act as human shields for the protesters.

President-elect Trump, who has an investment in the company behind the project, has come out to say he supports the pipeline. The situation continues to be precarious and there is a great deal of uncertainty about what will come next.

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