UPDATE 6/14/2017: Federal Judge Says Dakota Access Pipeline Environmental Review Was Inadequate

"The court’s finding that the Army Corps did not meet their obligations under environmental law means that it is possible (but not certain) that a future court ruling could order Energy Transfer Partners to shut down the pipeline." READ MORE HERE.


UPDATE 03/02/2017: Camp Evictions and the School's Future. Connect straight to the school's blog and hear their thoughts about the eviction, press coverage, the school's future, and, of course, the building of the pipeline.



We at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa, Defenders of the Water School, were very disappointed in the government’s decision to ignore the call for an environmental impact study regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline put in place by the previous administration. The speed with which the drilling was completed was much faster than what Energy Partners had said in court filings it would take to complete. They now state that oil could be flowing next week. Our hearts are heavy as the water and sacred lands of the Lakota people have been stolen once again. There are lawsuits that continue to work their way through the court system and we hope that justice might be served through that route.

The camps had regular garbage pickup and were very well maintained. When winter hit, access to the camp was blocked. This was one of the harshest winters in recent history. Snow storms pounded the land one after another. The members of camps were committed to cleaning up in the most environmentally friendly way. Items were being sorted through, some things were being sent to other reservations, some were being repurposed, some recycled, and as a last resort some was being discarded. The camps were asked how long it would take to get everything out and then given an eviction date that was many days before the answer given. With the earlier date, there was not enough time given to clear the camp out in a sustainable way and people were forced out before the job was complete. People had been working around the clock to complete this process and it is devastating to know that people had to leave before the plans were carried out. Structures that could be used to house the homeless, building materials, clothing, and more are now just being scooped up and dumped into landfill.

We had already begun the process of moving our school structures from camp before the eviction notices came for treaty lands. We are dedicated to taking this school, built out a gathering of tribes from around the world, and creating a permanent indigenous project based school. We are making progress on finalizing what that is going to look like and working with an existing organization for a possible merger. While we complete those plans, we are also planning one to two week camps that will bring students traditional knowledge. In the next several months we will have camps ranging from storytelling to buffalo hide tanning and meat curing. We are also in the exploratory phase of adding an virtual learning environment to our school.

During the last several weeks we have been finishing our application to become an affiliate of Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Inc. Director of Development, April Rain, recently traveled to their headquarters in Arcata, CA to receive training on reporting and best practice. We are very excited to be a part of this outstanding organization. Their support will allow us to make our dreams for the school a reality. With over 40 years experience to share, Seventh Generation can help guide us and offer us access to grants and funding we may not be able to qualify for on our own. All future donations to our school are tax deductible. We will be updating our website with a new donation button soon. You can still support our new efforts by purchasing the remaining shirts Third Man Books has to offer.

We are very grateful to Chet Weise and the entire Third Man Records and Books team, as well as all of our supporters and volunteers. We could not have offered our programs in camp or be in a position to grow without you. We hope that you will continue to support and follow our progress as we set forth on this exciting adventure. We will continue to fight against the poisoning of water and the destruction of tribal lands by corporations concerned about profit over people. Our children can not drink oil and have rights to the sacred sites of their ancestors. 

Mní Wičhóni,
Alayna Eagle Shield
Blaze Starkey
April Rain
Jose Zhagnay


UPDATE 02/22/2017: Eviction day. Read story here. And please continue to check this site. The Defenders of the Water School at Standing Rock now has more work then ever to do.

UPDATE 2/08/2017: The easement was granted by The Army Corps of Engineering. Drilling to start immediately. Tribe will take court action. With the new presidency, the situation at Standing Rock has now changed drastically. To read the Corps' statement, go here.

 UPDATE 1/13/2017: Although the camp is moving location due to imminent spring flooding, please know that there are still over 2000 campers at Standing Rock, Why? Because despite the U.S. Army's decision to not grant easement there remains serious doubts, and as long as the pipeline remains a threat, the water protectors will stay. The Defenders of the Water School will also stay, teaching the camp's children.


Third Man Books and Third Man Records are grateful and excited to announce a new collaborative project in support of The Defenders of the Water School at Standing Rock (Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa), with plans to publish the activist students' work in the public forum and to help the school raise much needed funds. The Defenders of the Water school serves the families of the NoDAPL camp communities. In addition to helping families understand the homeschooling laws in their state, they provide educational opportunities for children ages seven to thirteen. The morning begins with a lesson in Lakota language and culture. Classes are also offered daily in English and Math. Members of the camp community also provide lessons about their traditions and volunteers share their knowledge in workshops. Under the guidance of Director of Development, April Rain, of Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa, will feature a page dedicated to exhibiting the students' work, across various media, created by students and volunteers from The Defenders of the Water School. This public forum will allow the students’ voices to be heard the world over. Third Man Books is humbled to have the opportunity to display their inspiring work and assist in spreading public awareness of the ongoing struggle at Standing Rock. This is a situation that should not be viewed in isolation — this is a situation that affects us all. Water is life.

In order to help the school fund its program in the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ Camp community, we would like to give you an opportunity to donate and show solidarity with the students and their families by wearing and representing the school on your heart, over your chest. Proceeds from sales of this original Third Man t-shirt design — done in collaboration with and approved by the school — will be donated directly to aid the school.

Available for purchase here.

Wear your shirt with pride, and stay tuned for writing, art, journals, and more from the students and faculty. We'll be posting everything.

 A few short documentaries by the students...






How is the media misrepresenting the camp?

What do you want people to know?

Written by the Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa Students

-The cops were trying to say that they were going to escort of all of the children out of the camp, but they didn’t. The media is portraying the camp as violent. The media said we had pipe bombs. They are actual carrying weapons (police). Also, the media said Sacred stone was armed but they weren’t. I want people to know we are unarmed peaceful water defenders. Also, when we go to the front lines we are unarmed and they are armed. Also we fight with our prayers.

-The media is saying we are being violent. The media is also saying we are attacking but we are not. The Bismarck Tribune said dogs and police were attacked and no protesters were attacked by dogs or police. It is wrong because water protectors were attacked not police.I want people to understand that we are not stranded. We work together to make it more comfortable. The people donate and people go out of their way and get things for us. We have security, school, and the kitchen.

- I want people to understand the history behind the camp, and the movement, and this place. Specifically the significance of this place, particularly how long people have been gathering here. This history of the land and treaties, the clan, and the importance of the river. The sites that are here and the stories.

-The media are telling the story wrong. We are supposed to be telling the story of our camp. I want people to know our camp is not violent and are camp is a peaceful camp.

-One problem with the media is they lie and twist things around. They ask the police and not us. I want people to understand without water we don’t have a future generation and it is good we are standing up and we’re nonviolent.

-I want people to know what the camp is about. Like we are here to protect the water and we don’t want to hurt any one. And I don’t like that people who write the articles.

-I want people to know we are a peaceful camp.

-I would tell the world these are our sacred lands and we want to protect our water. First I would like to show the our river. IT is our water and we’re proud of it. It gives a lot of animals life.

-The media is not telling people in the world we are trying to protect our sacred water. For example, some papers said that we are being violent and they were saying we will berate and kill someone. I still need to talk to elders about the old days and how we did things. I want to tell them water is important to us because we need water to survive, Also our body is made of water, 90% of it. We count on it for a lot of reasons and for a lot of things.

-I would show that we are unarmed and we are not a camp, no more we are a community and we take care of each other. I would show we are taking care of each other because we feed each other and teach each other. I would video them cooking and feeding. I would video them having school and teaching. I would take a picture of them doing the donation shack. I would as the teachers what they are teaching and what they think the kids are learning and what they think about the community. I would ask the frontline people what they seen and what they think about the community. I would ask the donation people what do people usually get and what do people donate to this community. I would ask the cook shack people what do they cook for the community and long do it usually take to cook for the whole community. I would ask the medic people how many people do they usually get and how much medicine do they get for the community. I would ask the elders how many people they met and what they think of the community and did they learn anything. I would tell people what all the people said so they know about us.

-The media is portraying the camp by telling the people bad things instead of the good things the nodapl process has done. Like at the action the dogs were biting. And the media said the dogs got hurt and not the people. The camp is about nodapl. It is trying to stop the black snake which is oil because you can’t drink oil. IF people come to the camp I would show them all the cool things about the nodapl camp sight.

-The media is mispotraying the camp as violent. The media said we had pipebombs. They said we were attacking security. Bot we were the ones being attacked and we were holding chanupas and praying. They said we had guns stashed at the Sacred Stone Camp. We really did not. I want people outside the camp to understand that we are peaceful. We pray a lot. We go down to the river every morning at the crack of dawn. When we pray, we pray for the water and the people and the frontlines. We pray before we eat and when we do sweat. We are peaceful by not attacking, we pray and sing when we are at the frontline. We do not have trained dogs or guns. We just carry chanupas. (Eds note:- a chanupa is a sacred ceremonial pipe)

-I think the media should know the truth before the speak and not tell lies. I want people to understand what all this means. People are coming here for the need of water. It means a lot to all of us.

-What I think the media is telling wrong about the camp is telling them that we are violent. I want people to understand about the camp is that it’s sacred and everything made in it is sacred.

-What we want people to understand is everybody is working together. Camp is special, ancestors and spirits are here. A lot of people are camping with spirits and ancestors and being respectful. There is a lot of history here.

-I want to let people know the truth of this movement and let people know that the camp is non-violent and that we are protectors, not protesters.




Háu Mitákuyepi,

We at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (Defenders of the Water School) are greatly encouraged by the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision not to grant the easement underneath Mníšoše. Indigenous people, along with allies, have prayed together and stood together to say that human rights abuses, treaty violations, and environmental degradation will not be tolerated. This is a historic moment and a step towards greater justice for not just Standing Rock, but all indigenous nations.

This victory reminds us of how powerful we are together. We must remember too that this fight is about much more than a single injustice. We’ve seen the State’s lack of regard for treaty rights, sacred spaces, and the earth; we’ve seen how corporate interests are elevated above human interests; and we’ve seen the police brutality and racism perpetrated against indigenous communities. However, at camp we have also seen the beauty of a community structured around indigenous values. We've seen the high level of love, care, and generosity we can show each other each and every day. We've seen how strong our prayers and our songs can be. Our solidarity does not and cannot end here.

To that end, Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa will continue to fight for indigenous children to have access to an education rooted in their own cultural traditions, beliefs, and languages. We will continue to fight against a system that was designed to wipe out indigenous cultures. We believe that indigenous families and communities have the right to educate their own children through culturally-based frameworks. Most of all, we believe deeply in our students. It was the youth who started the movement here at Standing Rock and it will be the youth who will continue to lead the way through their powerful and culturally-guided leadership.

As our movement grows, we at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa are looking forward to moving into a new phase in our work. For the time being, we will be taking a break from conducting daily classes and will instead be focusing our energies on the exciting work of creating a long-term project-and-culturally-based school. In the next few months, we will also hold a number of events designed to further the conversation around indigenous education and provide traditionally-based learning opportunities, including:

-A decolonization-in-education conference at Standing Rock
-A reunion of the incredible people who have been involved in the school for a conversation about our future vision
-Multi-day learning workshops that include: Lakota food preservation (with buffalo butchering and hide tanning), zine making with indigenous poets and artists, star knowledge and the sacred places of Ȟesápa (Black Hills), and coding and computer science through an indigenous framework

In the next few weeks, we will be posting additional details about these upcoming projects.

We are so grateful to our community both within and outside of the camp, who have so graciously shared time, energy, resources, and knowledge. We are honored to stand with you all.

Philámayayapi na Wóphila Tȟáŋka
Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa