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Larry Towell’s Standing Rock Magnum Distribution, released almost one year after the closing of the protest camps at Standing Rock, attests to the enduring legacy of nonviolent resistance.
Towell’s images capture the emotions, energy and tension surrounding the protest, harkening to his unique abilities to tell the story of a place and a time–one that has defined his photographic practice.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, designed to carry 470,000 barrels of Dakota crude oil daily, had been planned to run 10 miles (16 km) north of the predominantly white American town of Bismarck, Dakota, but was stopped due to local public pressure. The pipeline was re-routed to the northern edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it would cross the Missouri River, the source of drinking water for the Sioux tribe, and where it was also believed to threaten sacred burial sites. Members of the tribe and its supporters argued that they were not adequately consulted before this route was confirmed.
After months of protest and public outcry, on December 4, 2016, the Obama Administration announced it would halt construction of the pipeline due to environmental concerns. However, two months later, under orders from recently-inaugurated President Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they would continue with the pipeline’s construction and close down protest camps near Lake Oahe on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
Magnum photographer Larry Towell, who has spent years documenting Native American issues in Canada and the U.S., visited the protest camp twice in 2016. There, he encountered the largest Native Indian gathering in over a century, with an estimated 5,000 persons from over 200 native tribes, in addition to environmental and human rights activists from both North and South America who had joined the protest to offer their solidarity. The gathering evolved into an indigenous awakening of identity, culture and community. According to Towell, the atmosphere was: “prayerful, peaceful, and respectful. The rules were simple: No cursing. No alcohol. No drugs. No weapons (rare for North Dakota). Dress modestly … They were digging their heels in for the winter.”
On February 21, Towell made his third trip to the Dakota Access Pipeline camps at Standing Rock. The following day, on the deadline to evacuate, most of the remaining demonstrators bid tearful farewells to their fellow activists, known as water protectors. Some decided to remain. Later that afternoon, authorities arrested journalists, who’d been previously ordered to leave the area. On Thursday, police in riot gear with automatic rifles entered the camp in military-style vehicles, forcing the holdouts to flea onto the frozen Cannonball River.
Despite these setbacks, water protectors remained determined to continue their activities opposing construction of the pipeline.
Harking back to the analogue days of photo distribution, the Magnum Distribution is a full photographic story in an envelope.
Each pack contains eight 8×10” prints, hand-stamped with the Magnum Collection stamp and the photographer’s copyright stamp, and accompanied by a printed page detailing the story and individual captions.
Each pack is numbered from 1 to 100 on its envelope.
Price may increase as the edition sells.
Our contemporary version of the distro plays on the nostalgia of the press print, and makes the work of Magnum photographers available to purchase as an unsigned set of digital C-type prints, exclusively through the Magnum Shop, in a limited edition of 100.
Magnum Distribution sets are produced in New York from where they will ship