Photographer Larry Towell has spent years documenting Native American issues in Canada and the US.
Photo by Larry Towell/Magnum Photos
After months of resistance and public outcry, on December 4, 2016, the Obama administration announced it would halt construction on the Dakota Access pipeline, and the Army Corps of Engineers soon started conducting a study on the potentially harmful effects it could have on the environment. But the effort didn't last long. In January, President Trump gave instructions to cease the study, which meant construction could begin again. Then, in February, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, citing safety concerns, issued an emergency evacuation order, giving protesters until the 22nd to leave their camps near Lake Oahe. Larry Towell, who has spent years documenting Native American issues in Canada and the US, made his third and perhaps final trip to the pipeline. There, at the Oceti Sakowin camp, he captured the remaining water protectors—the demonstrators, many of them tribal leaders and young people from around the country. The next day, police trucks and construction vehicles entered the camp, and some holdouts fled onto the frozen Cannonball River.