Mike Wardynski is a landscape photographer based in Oakland, California who teaches photography to people from all over the world. He was driving home from work one day when he felt a pull to go to Standing Rock.
“I felt like this is a part of American history that may be more important than a lot of other things that have happened in my life time. I felt driven to go,” says Wardynski, the founder of his new photography project, “A Sign of the Times,” which looks into social injustice in the US.
Wardysnki visited Standing Rock as the news of the denial of easement was announced by the Army Corps of Engineers on Dec. 4, 2016. The denied permit allegedly should have stopped construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“Standing Rock is a very difficult thing,” Wardysnki explains, “when you’re on the ground there, it’s difficult to know what’s actually happening.” Miscommunication and rumors spread frequently as there is a lack of internet and cell phone service at the camp.
But what Wardynski can be sure about is that the folks still remaining at the Oceti Sakowin camp aren’t going anywhere until “they can walk to that drill site, and see that the Energy Transfer Partners have left.” He estimates that around 1,500 water protectors are still on the site.
Meanwhile, Energy Transfer Partners’ intentions are to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline no matter what.
“When I was there, even when the easement was denied, I could look out at the hillside and I could see excavators still digging in the sand,” Wardynski recalls. “So I think there’s a false notion, out in the real world, that this thing is over. But in reality, it’s still happening. There’s still people out there and they’re still fighting for clean water.”
All of the photography featured in this article was taken by Mike Wardynski. To learn more about his project, “A Sign of the Times,” check out: www.asott.org/
You can also support Mike Wardysnki and his project through his kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/970182…e?ref=user_menu