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Mni Wiconi / Water Is Life: Honoring the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and Everywhere in the Ongoing Struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty
by John Willis
with contributions from the Lakota people and allies, a foreword by Terry Tempest Williams, and an afterword by Shaunna Oteka-McCovey

2019 Winner of the Gold Medal for Best Regional Book of the Year Foreword INDIES Award! (view pdf of certificate here)

A timely and comprehensive look at the protests at Standing Rock!

Advocacy Award Finalist in the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association's 2019 Best Book of the Year Awards!

When the Standing Rock Indian Reservation learned that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would pass through and along its sovereign and sacred lands, including burial grounds, the leaders said: No DAPL on Lakota land. This quickly led to a groundswell of support of the movement to relocate DAPL away from native lands and to engender new ways of thinking about energy use and a green future.

From the very beginning, the movement at Standing Rock followed the long-standing Lakota tradition of prayerful, peaceful resistance along the lines used by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement. Tens of thousands of people known as Water Protectors came to Standing Rock from all over the world and from more than 300 Indian nations. For nearly a year, they participated in organized prayerful and peaceful protests that, unfortunately, created conflicts with those in government who did not wish to relocate DAPL away from Lakota land, resulting in more than 800 arrests of Water Protectors.

Standing Rock also became a rallying cry for native and non-native U.S. veterans who came from all over the U.S. to Standing Rock to protest the brutal assault by police on the Water Protectors at Blackstone Bridge on November 20, 2016. The vets came to reject such police action, declaring that they fought overseas to defend and protect the rights of all citizens to engage in peaceful public dissent and protest.

In Mni Wiconi / Water Is Life, John Willis has assembled a compelling story—a true mosaic—of what happened at Standing Rock from the perspective of those who were there and witnessed life in the camps and conflicts with authorities. He shares his ever-insightful and penetrating photographs with contributions of art, poems, and commentaries by more than fifty other Water Protectors who were there plus an impassioned foreword by Terry Tempest Williams and contemplative afterword by Shaunna Oteka-McCovey. Mni Wiconi is a gift—a wopila— to the memory of Standing Rock and the ongoing challenges facing native people.


$45.00 U.S. (trade discount) No e-book has been authorized.
Hardcover (PLC)
244 pages with 124 color photographs by the author, 11 color photographs of artwork, 5 color maps, 16 color ledger drawings, 6 letters, 1 color painting, and 13 historic documents, drawings, and photographs
10.0" x 11.0" upright/portrait
ISBN 978–1–938086–66–3

Published November 2019

Published in association with the American Land Publishing Project

Distributed by Casemate/IPM
No e-book has been authorized.

About the Author

Book Events & Exhibitions:
March 21, 2020 from 1-3pm
Book Signing & Talk
Bird Cage Bookstore, Rapid City, SD

Read an interview in ColdType with Willis (pdf)

Book Information Sheet (pdf)


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