Our class, Native Women’s Activism, began as an educational experiment created by Dr. Elizabeth Castle in collaboration with multiple students who wanted to implement their activism in a non-traditional classroom setting. The course began with a trip to Eagle Butte, South Dakota for the 2017 Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Powwow (Wacipi), Fair and Rodeo. With the permission of the Grandmother’s group, five students interviewed Water Protectors about their experiences at the Standing Rock camp. The Water Protectors are a group of people, Native and non-Native, who were peaceful activists at the Standing Rock camp. These activists were opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The students, with simply their cameras and audio recorders, walked into the camp with no journalistic agenda or experience, and simply wanted to interview people in order to ensure that their stories would be heard. This request came as a result of the exploitation and misrepresentation that many Water Protectors experienced while being interviewed or filmed with media and independent filmmakers. While at the Water Protectors’ Camp, more than 20 individuals of multiple complex identities discussed their experiences in an empowering way that let them highlight their own stories. Before interviews were conducted, a contract was signed by the interviewees stating that this interview was for non-commercial use and that legal action could be taken if it were used in violation of its Creative Commons license.
When the field work in South Dakota was done, the bulk of the work came once the students returned to Denison University and reconvened with the rest of the class. As a whole, it was decided that we would work on producing a means to get these interviews out to the public. To do this, the interviews were prepared using Adobe Premier Pro and Apple iMovie with the help of instructional technologist Cheryl Johnson and Treasure Thomas-Castile, a senior Cinema major at Denison University. With their help, we were able to use the footage to create videos and audio podcasts available to the public. Cheryl Johnson created the website in WordPress. None of the work that was done would have been possible without the help of Madonna Thunder Hawk and the Grandmothers Group that sent out the initial invitation for the class to join them in the historic honoring of the Water Protectors. The publishing of this project through a website allows the stories of the Water Protectors to be shared widely and revamp the conversations that dimmed once mainstream media coverage left. So, please enjoy as you listen to the stories of Standing Rock, straight from the mouths of those who were there.