"We're gaining strength": On the Standing Rock reservation, winter is coming — but protesters won't give up 


Near Cannon Ball, N.D. — From the edge of the road, near the banks of the Cannon Ball River, you could hear a prayer rise from the darkened bowl of land below. It was 7:30 on a Monday morning on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. A faint glow appeared in the east, widening slowly to reveal a large circle of perhaps 100 people, most standing, a few kneeling in the center, facing the light, singing their prayer then lighting long pipes and passing them around. Behind them, dozens of white tipis stretched across the flood plain, their tops catching the early sunlight.

A few months ago, this treeless clearing in the Missouri River flood plain was empty. Now, 1,200 people are camping here, a fraction of the 5,000 who gathered in the summer. They have come from Indian lands across the Dakotas; from 300 North American tribal nations; from Jamaica, Central America, Norway, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Their common pledge: to kill the long black snake — also known as the 1,172-mile, 450,000-barrel-a-day, $3.78 billion Dakota Access pipeline — before it poisons the drinking water that millions of people in the Great Plains depend on.

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