“Joey Montoya, like other protesters near Cannon Ball, at the northern boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, sees himself as not just protecting the local community from a new oil pipeline – but also the country and the earth.
“Native communities are always just the first to be affected. We’re always at the front lines when oil companies come in.”
Montoya, a 22-year-old member of the Lipan Apache tribe from San Francisco, is part an influx of Native American and environmental activists from all over the country who have gathered in the remote part of the state to take a stand against the $3.7bn North Dakota Access Pipeline, which tribal members say threatens to pollute drinking water and damage sacred sites
In recent years, there have been a string of indigenous actions against oil pipelines in the US and Canada, but this one is already attracting especially broad support. On Facebook, Jon Eagle Sr, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at the Standing Rock Reservation, affirmed that the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux Nation – representing all Sioux groups – had come together for the first time since 1876 over this issue. Tribal chairman Archambault called in a statement for “my fellow American citizens (to) stand with my people”.
Mossett thinks that Native American pipeline activism may be at a crossroads. “This is the first time that the tribes have been coming together in recent history.”