Although most of the water protectors have been ejected from #NoDAPL protest camps and the Dakota Access Pipeline is as good as finished, the movement is not over. That was the overall message of Native Nations Rising (NNR), the multi-day Indigenous solidarity gathering that began with the construction of a tipi camp in front of the Washington Monument and culminated in a mass march to The White House. Sponsored by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a range of grassroots groups, NNR featured cultural ceremonies, a women’s press conference on International Women’s Day, meetings with elected officials including Bernie Sanders, and the construction of a tipi in front of the D.C. branch of Trump hotels. Some 5,000 people braved an unseasonable snow storm to participate in the march which served as a reunion for water protectors and a message to the Trump Administration that Native people have the political will to oppose its pro-pipeline actions. Ayşe Gürsöz, cofounder of Indigenous Rising Media, was on hand to chronicle the three days of struggle and cross-nation solidarity. 

Ayşe Gürsöz is a producer, photographer and digital storyteller. At Standing Rock, she co-launched Indigenous Rising Media, an Indigenous-led media collective in collaboration with the Indigenous Environmental Network. In San Francisco, she’s produced for the Al Jazeera’s AJ+ Real Time news team. She has also produced for Grassroots Global Justice at the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Most recently, her photography work has been featured in the Amplifier Foundation’s “We The People” campaign.  

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    “In Standing Rock we needed the masks for the tear gas, goggles for mace, earplugs for sound weapons, rain gear for the hoses, and we taped magazines to our bodies to guard against the rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, concussion grenades and batons,” says RedWolf Pope (Eagle Bear Tlingit and White Knife Shoshone). “In D.C. no one lost an eye, or an arm, or their freedom of speech. Bringing the mask out was to make people remember.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Tipis and frames from Standing Rock were raised in front of The Washington Monument throughout NNR. The so-called Native Nations Rise Tipi Camp housed cultural events, press conferences and ceremonies. “This tipi camp is a manifestation of the ongoing resistance to the attacks on our sovereignty,” says Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The Dakota Access movement was the tip of spear of the what Indigenous peoples are fighting for.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Jordan Marie Daniel is a member of the Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) in South Dakota. Her community is based on the Missouri River which the Dakota Access Pipeline is set to cross. “My hope is that this movement sustains and goes into the next generations,” says Daniel, a three-year D.C. resident who recently co-launched an Indigenous rights organization called Rising Hearts Coalition. (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Samuel Johns (Ahtna and Gwich’in Athabascan) traveled to D.C. from Anchorage, Alaska, where he makes motivational music under the name AK Rebel. “One thing I learned from Standing Rock, is the ‘collective’ness,’ when everyone is working together and there is no big-shot,” says Johns, who also created ForgetMeNot.org, a site that connects people to family and culture. “I just got done Facetiming my daughter. I showed her the tipis and the monument in the background, and her face just lit up. Just seeing my daughter’s face, it was beautiful.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Jade Begay (Diné,Te Tsu Geh) is a producer with Indigenous Rising Media and a digital communications manager for the Indigenous Environmental Network from New Mexico. She was at Standing Rock from September through December to share stories from the ground through a Native lens. For NNR, she helped coordinate communications and made video stories. “If we continue to reclaim and control our narratives, we can show exactly who we are: a people who are fighting relentlessly to protect what’s sacred so that future generations have a connection to their culture and also have basic human rights.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Kristina Elote (Jicarilla Apache Nation) came to NNR from Northern New Mexico with a group of the International Indigenous Youth Council, which formed at Standing Rock. “I created this hat [as] a statement that Indigenous people still exist. We see this administration targeting our people and I wanted to create a target on the hat and the [Trump slogan] ‘Make America Great Again.’ I hope my statement sticks because I’m tired of having an arrow in my back.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    On International Women’s Day, March 7, Indigenous women from across the country gathered at the Native Nations Tipi Camp for a press conference.”We want to move away from the fossil fuel economy,” says Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We have so much wind in North Dakota. It’s ridiculous that we’re using fossil fuel resources. The oil industry, the coal industry, they’ve polluted the water, and we’re seeing cancers. I myself am a cancer survivor. And I believe that we can win.” Left to right: Jade Begay and Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network; Judith LeBlanc of Native Organizers Alliance; Faith Gi;mmel of REDOIL Patricia Gualinga of Amazon Watch. (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Patricia Gualinga, international relations director for the Kichwa First People of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon, traveled to NNR with a delegation from Amazon Watch. At the women’s day press conference, she said: “My people from Sarayaku are in solidarity with the struggle in Standing Rock because we identify with the struggle. Though we are a small people of just 1,200, we were successful in kicking out an oil company in our territory. Our role in life is to fight.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders stands at a table and speaks to about 25 Native people.

    On March 9, 2017, tribal representatives met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to discuss their concerns about the Trump Administration, which include its intention to privatize resources in Native jurisdictions, the fast-tracking of energy development and the suspension of environmental laws. “You have more support than you know,” said Sanders, citing the high number of responses he receives on social media posts covering Native issues. “Your job, my job, is to bring those people together to say to Trump and his corporate friends, he can’t do this. But we need to a strategy to do that.” Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz

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    Cassandra Begay (Navajo tribe) traveled to NNR from Utah. “Today I’m here because we’re standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. We are the caretakers of this land.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Eryn Wise (Jicarilla Apache and Laguna Pueblo) hugs her little sister at the frontline of the Native Nations Rise March on March 10, 2017. “My sister and I have been having a rough time, pretty severe PTSD post-Standing Rock,” says Wise, a member of the International Indigenous Youth Council and an organizer with Honor the Earth. “We hadn’t seen each other in about a month and half so we reunited at the march at that moment.” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    According to Washington, D.C. police, an estimated 5,000 people participated in the March 10, 2017 Native Nations March on Washington. (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Black Eyed Peas member Taboo (Shoshone) performs for an audience of thousands in front of the White House at the rally following the Native Nations Rise march on March 10, 2017. “If I had one question for Donald Trump,” he said onstage, “I’d ask ‘where is the love?” (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Dallas Goldtooth also belongs to the 1491s comedy troupe. “It was beautiful to see the snow fall on our faces as we hit the streets, 5000 strong,” he says. “It was beautiful to hear the words of so many powerful leaders from across Turtle Island. We did that.”  (Photo: Ayşe Gürsöz)

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    A group of people carry a colorful banner at the Native Nations Rise March on March 10, 2017 in Washington, D.C.