These stories on Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline have been supported in part by SJNN and the McCormick Foundation. They have been co-published by SJNN.
When Cloee Cooper, June Leffler and Pat Nabong proposed in late Sept. 2016 to go from Chicago to North Dakota to report on the ongoing movement by Native American tribes to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed near the Standing Rock reservation, some news organizations had covered the story, a few were invested in continuing to report, but it was still an under-reported, off the beaten track story, with friction developing between protesters and law enforcement authorities and between protesters and journalists.
Cooper, Leffler and Nabong anticipated a number of scenarios that might arise that would be worth elaboration. They needed to be there, develop trusted sources and return to Chicago to continue reporting on the story. They could not have predicted that the DAPL controversy, involving a pipeline that was already 90 percent completed, would result in the halting of the pipeline; the characterization of the movement as a potential model for cross-cultural protest; the election of Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of oil pipelines, and the re-invigoration of the controversy as a focal point for what the new administration will do.
They stayed with the story and put out a package of stories that captured nuances that inject the story with iconic and historical resonance – about the import of political, law enforcement and labor alliances, the modest influence of Native Americans in electoral politics; the presence of tribal rivalries; the dignity of the Native American cause; and the role of climate conditions. In the package of stories, Cooper, Leffler and Nabong have teed up a challenge for journalism: How will journalism cover Native American affairs and its convergence with other agendas; environmental, political and intersectional?
NoDAPL supporters chant ‘Mni wiconi’ and it’s not just about water, By Pat Nabong and June Leffler, Dec. 7, 2016
Illinois’ pipeline construction proceeds with reservations but no rancor, By Cloee Cooper, Nov. 29, 2016
Trump’s ascendancy intensifies #NoDAPL movement, By Pat Nabong, Nov. 23, 2016
Native Americans seek visibility in their vote, By Pat Nabong, Nov. 8, 2016
Native Americans put aside differences at Standing Rock to fight pipeline construction, By Cloee Cooper, Oct. 28, 2016
Bitter consequences: Pipeline protesters batten down the hatches for North Dakota winter, By Pat Nabong and June Leffler, Oct. 19, 2016
All-points call for more deputies to police Standing Rock protest draws critics, By June Leffler and Cloee Cooper, Oct. 19, 2016
Can Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day co-exist? By June Leffler, Oct. 6, 2016
Siding with Standing Rock at the Naperville Powwow, By June Leffler, Sept. 29, 2016