For Native ‘water protectors,’ Standing Rock protest has become fight for religious freedom, human rights

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by Jenni Monet for PBS Newshour.

The tops of teepees could be seen in the distance, east of where a standoff between police and protesters was intensifying. Draped in a Pendleton blanket stood Casey Camp-Horinek praying in the middle of North Dakota Highway 1806. The Ponca woman, a respected traditionalist, was singing with a sacred pipe gripped in her hands. A small group had gathered closely around her. One indigenous elder stood with an eagle staff, a sacred prayer stick, by his side.

“This is your last chance,” boomed a voice from the intercom of a nearby armored truck. The prayer group didn’t budge. Camp-Horinek continued to sing.

Dozens of protesters looked on, some chanting a slogan that has branded the anti-pipeline campaign: “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life”.

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