December 13, 2016

Ground Truth at Standing Rock


December, 2016

LABS Managing Director Chris Rezendes traveled to the front lines of the Dakota Access Pipeline standoff to meet with representatives of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Council and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Through meetings and conversations with tribal elders, Council members, natural resource management professionals, water protectors, youth groups, and security teams, LABS explored interest in establishing ground truth on water presence and condition at Standing Rock.

Water Security: A Global Crisis

LABS understands that water security is a global crisis. Groundwater is under pressure in a growing number of communities across the United States, and it has the potential to become a national security issue if we do not demand better data about one of the few, fundamental human rights most of the planet agrees on: access to clean, safe, reliable water.

The struggle for water protection at the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of a long history of struggle for indigenous cultures in the United States; their claims are often ignored or brushed off for a lack of data and the type of factual information that the western culture understands and accepts. The instrumentation of groundwater would empower the Great Sioux Nation with data to support their cases.

Instrumenting for Ground Truth

The intentional, intelligent instrumentation of pipelines, and other hard linear assets (rail lines, power lines, etc.) as well as critical infrastructure could provide a wide range of stakeholders–from developers to finance partners and regulators–with the data they need to make better, faster decisions to help us all achieve a higher degree of resilience.

LABS plans to explore adding one or more pilot sites in the Dakotas. Next steps will include meeting with multiple stakeholders operating in and around the Missouri River Watershed, proposing instrumentation partners and exploring approaches to sharing the new ground truth that emerges from these instrumentations.


Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock, photo by Chris Rezendes.