Since early 2016 they have occupied a site near the area slated to carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Illinois. They’ve come from across the country. They’ve weathered sleet, snow and harsh heat. They are the Standing Rock protesters. “And they are proud,” says photographer Nima Taradji, who has been documenting the encampment and the protests since September.
As the Washington Post’s Kevin Sullivan reported last week, “to its opponents, the pipeline represents the latest chapter in the nation’s long history of disrespect and abuse of Native Americans. It runs within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and tribal leaders argue that it threatens the drinking water for thousands of Native Americans and has caused the destruction of sacred artifacts and burial sites.”
On the other side, supporters of the Dakota Access Pipeline believe the 1,170-mile, $3.8 billion project is an economic boost and a step toward America’s energy independence.
Taradji was initially drawn to the story’s complexity, but after three separate trips what surprised him most was each of the protester’s pride. His portraits capture the spirit of each individual that make up the movement.