‘The Stakes’: Revisiting Standing Rock

In honor of MTV’s Earth Week coverage, here’s an update on the movement

Welcome back to “The Stakes.” In honor of MTV's Earth Week coverage, we're revisiting our episode recorded at Standing Rock, North Dakota, last year, and updating you on the indigenous environmental movement.

For several months beginning in late summer 2016, protesters camped out in North Dakota to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline — a $3.7 billion project that is currently transporting oil across four states. The self-described "water protectors" wanted to protect sacred Standing Rock Sioux sites that pipeline construction could destroy, and worried about potential contamination of the Missouri River should a rupture happen. At their peak, the protest camps housed several thousands of people from all over the country, including members from hundreds of different tribes.

On December 4, 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that the pipeline would not be permitted at Standing Rock. Two days later the tribal council’s chairman told water protectors that it was time to pack up and go home.

On March 24 of this year, President Trump issued a memo announcing that the State Department had given final permission to proceed with the Dakota Access Pipeline through Standing Rock. By March 28, Energy Transfer Partners announced that there was crude oil in the pipeline under Lake Oahe.

In late 2016, MTV News writer Marcus Ellsworth and podcast producer Kasia Mychajlowycz traveled to the Oceti Sakowin Camp, a large allegiance of smaller camps containing an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people, to talk to water protectors, volunteers, and allies about why they were standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and what they’d do when December 5 rolled around.

Voices featured in this show include Eva Cardenas, André Perez, George Pletnikoff Jr., Andre Nunez, and Liz George.

This episode of “The Stakes” was produced by Kasia Mychajlowycz, Michael Catano, James T. Green, and Mukta Mohan and is part of the MTV Podcast Network. You can subscribe to "The Stakes" and other fine MTV Podcasts productions at