The longest-running protest in modern history, the Standing Rock Movement has deep roots in Native American trauma and marginalization. The issues at hand are both legal and moral, with questions raised about the use of eminent domain for a private pipeline and accusations of repeated discrimination against the Native Americans at the hands of the US government.
Despite the major victory for the Standing Rock protestors in early December, when the Army Corps of Engineering denied Dakota Access the easement to complete the final part of the pipeline, many people continue to camp at the site in North Dakota in below-freezing temperatures because of the company’s announcement that it would continue the project. Some of the younger protestors consider the standoff to be a sacred duty—the fulfillment of the native prophecy of the Seventh Generation, destined to rise up and defend the earth.
PLAYBOY’s Yoonj Kim spent a week living with the young indigenous people behind the Standing Rock Movement at Oceti Sakowin Camp. While history appears to be repeating itself with the continued oppression of Native Americans, there is something different about these young “protectors” of the water and earth. With social media, massive support and a racial unity behind the Native cause on their side, the Seventh Generation just might lead us all to a different ending.