“I Led a Movement to Protect My Land”
Seventeen - US|March/April 2017

Tokata Iron Eyes,13, is fighting against a major corporation—and the results could change the future.  

Jen Abidor

Last July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Fort Yates, ND, took legal action to block Energy Transfer Partners from building the Dakota Access oil pipeline near their reservation. If the pipeline were to burst, they said, it would threaten the Missouri River, their main water supply. While awaiting a ruling, locals and their supporters gathered at a camp near the reservation to stage a protest. The cause gained attention on social media (#NoDAPL) and IRL thanks in part to a group of ambitious teen tribe members. Tokata is one of them.

On the ground 

I’ve always had a special connection to Mother Earth—my ancestors died to protect the land I live on and the water I drink. So when I learned about the plan to build the pipeline from speakers who came to my school, I felt scared, but I wasn’t going to sit back and watch it happen.

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