When members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe set up camp on the banks of the Cannonball River in April to protest the Dakota Access pipeline, they had little idea how widely their movement would spiral. The peaceful demonstration, which drew supporters from all corners of the continent to the North Dakota plains, summoned a response that not even the White House could ignore.
Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, which trains social activists in Indian country, spoke with Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton in early December 2016, days after returning from Standing Rock. The conversation touches on the significance of the Dakota Access protest, the relationship between the federal government and tribal governments for big infrastructure projects, and the role of grassroots movements for political change.
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Circle of Blue’s east coast correspondent based in New York. He specializes on water conflict and the water-food-energy nexus. He previously worked as a political risk analyst covering equatorial Africa’s energy sector, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact: Cody.Pope@circleofblue.org