cartoon of the week

Last Stand for the Standing Rock?

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CREDIT: Bob Englehart/ Political Cartoons

This week, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota scored a major victory. After months of protests by tribe members and their supporters trying to block an energy company from building an oil pipeline near its reservation, the U.S. Army announced that it would halt drilling under a section of the Missouri River that runs through the tribe’s reservation. The Standing Rock tribe is opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline because it says the project may contaminate its water supplies. They also say the pipeline’s route desecrates ancestral lands. Supporters of the pipeline say it would help make the U.S. more energy independent by transporting oil from North Dakota and Montana across the Plains to Illinois and markets around the country. The decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—the federal agency in charge of public building projects—could lead to a lengthy environmental review and pause construction for months or even years. 


  1. What’s happening in the cartoon, and where is the scene taking place? 
  2. Why is a giant rock smashing a vehicle marked “Big Oil”? Why are arrows piercing the vehicle’s tires, and what are those dark puddles spreading on the ground?
  3. What might the cartoonist be trying to say? How does he use symbolism to make his point?
  4. Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation behind the pipeline, says the project will lead to greater economic development and that it will increase safety and efficiency for carrying crude oil. Who do you think should mediate the conflict over the construction of the pipeline?
  5. The protests in North Dakota gained national attention over the past few months. Do you think this influenced the Army’s decision to halt construction of part of the pipeline? Why or why not?

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