Standing Rock: Face of a Protector


Face of a Protector highlights voices of women of Standing Rock. Representing many places, ages, tribes, and other identities, they are core to the story of Standing Rock. They run kitchens, start schools, organize supplies, provide healing, and offer wisdom. Through photos, audio, and text, one can explore who some of these protectors are—why they have come, how they describe their role at camp, and what meaning they make and take from the experience.

Find more of their stories at

Dorothy Sun Bear - Catka Winyan
Oglala Sioux - Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota || Supervising the Wounded Knee Camp kitchen 

My grandson showed me a video of a grandma who was tackled by a sheriff. She had no assistance. No one came to her aid.  Then he showed me another video of some young men running to the field, and the police were chasing them.  And he said, "Grandma you want to go there?" And so I said yeah. 

We are going to the frontline to defend Mother Earth. We are Mother Earth’s army.  It's time to stand up, and that's what we did. We all felt that in our hearts, everyone that is here. 

Judy Oatman
Nez Perce - Kamiah, Idaho || Supporting California Camp's kitchen by bringing traditional food and herbs for Medicinal use

I think what we need, we need to just quit hiding our heads in the sand, I guess as a culture of people in America….[as if] the past didn't happen. It happened, and there's a lot to be ashamed of, and there's a lot we have to embrace too. We have to be able to stand up to be who we are as Indian people. 

I think most of us feel like it's a helpless thing one-by-one but as a group in unity we can do something. I know that the water is what we're all here for today. And that's why I am here.

Betty Archambault
Oglala Sioux, from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota || Lives in Fort Yates, North Dakota

We come in peace and prayer, and that’s the message. And in our prophecies, we’re told we will win as long as we stay in prayer. If we get violent, we are going to lose.

It’s history. We are making history right now.

I am here every day. I can’t stay away. It has changed my life. I know that it will never be the same. 

Mni Wiconi, Water is Life.

Hoon-Mana Polk - Bear Girl
Navajo, Quechan and San Carlos Apache || Studying to be a physician's assistant in Twin Cities, Minnesota

What I see here that is positive is unity. I see so many people from different countries, different nationalities, have all come here and they're all giving themselves to help each other and to try to stop DAPL. You have all these non-natives learning the culture, history, and teachings that we all grow up with as indigenous people. The songs you get to hear - the songs, the prayers, the ceremony - they are all being witnessed with people here who are in solidarity with us and who are willing to learn and understand and honor what we do. 

Kee Straits, PHD
Qechua, from Peru, living in Albuquerque, NM || Member of the Society of Indigenous Psychologists, building collaborations with the Standing Rock Healer Medic Council

People think that native people don't exist anymore. But to see this power... That it's Native People's small voices that just started bringing everyone here. It's really powerful to see the spirit here... And that people are willing to take all these risks for the things that they think are most important. Which is each other and everything that we depend on for life.


The Powerful Voices of Women at Standing Rock; Indigenous Voices blog, National Geographic (Dec. 2016)

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