George Alexander (Muscogee Creek), paints with a youth at the Sacred Stone Camp | Images by Jaida Grey Eagle
Lakota photographer Jaida Grey Eagle shares her experience with art and activism from the protector camps near Standing Rock. The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where Grey Eagle is a student, will host a benefit show Oct. 16 featuring her images and other artwork.
Last month, I joined several of my artist friends on a journey to Standing Rock, where hundreds of tribal nations and thousands of protectors have gathered since spring to oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
In July, the US Army Corps of Engineers authorized the $3.7 billion pipeline, which, if constructed, will carry some 470,000 or more barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to a hub in Illinois, where it would go on to reach other refining markets.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been fighting DAPL since its early planning stages in 2014, when most people were concentrating solely on the now-defunct Keystone XL pipeline. The tribe’s drinking water, as well as sacred cultural sites and economy, are threatened by the pipeline’s route and its construction.
We made the decision to travel from Santa Fe, New Mexico, up to North Dakota, because we wanted to use our creative energy to help raise awareness of this moment of Indigenous unity. Click here to see a slideshow of more of my images.
We brought canvas, paint and brushes for anyone who wanted to create with us. It was absolutely wonderful to see the kids painting what was around them, everything from tipis to water to flowers and horses. Each one of their paintings reaffirmed their strength — and mine — and why we are fighting DAPL and protecting life for our future.
We brought some of the canvases back with us to Santa Fe and will be holding an art show Oct. 16 from 2-4 p.m. at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where I am a student, with all funds raised benefiting the Sacred Stone School and Standing Rock. Check out this link for more information about the art show.
We spent a few days meeting new people and reconnecting with others. Like many who visit the Sacred Stone Camp and surrounding communities, we immediately found ourselves caught in the power of this amazing Indigenous and ally unity.
What’s happening in Standing Rock is a tremendous and beautiful moment in our history, and I am honored to share these images I captured while at the camp. With these photographs, I wanted to share the light and joy happening amidst the chaos of what is trying to be accomplished against corporate greed and systemic, state-sponsored oppression.
The experience at protector camps was one of the most incredible of my life and something I will tell my grandchildren about someday. Everyone was so welcoming, giving, open and peaceful.
My name is Jaida Grey Eagle. I am Oglala Lakota. After being told my entire life that I am an artist, I am finally starting to believe it. My photography gear includes a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. You can see more of my photographs from this visit to Standing Rock here. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.