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

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”.