Settler media representing antisettler resistance: Katie M. Grote, Jay T. Johnson, ‘Pipelines, protectors, and settler colonialism: media representations of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2021


Abstract: Indigenous Resistance to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) garnered national and international media attention in 2016 as thousands gathered near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in protest. Increased media attention spurred enquiry concerning the representation of the Indigenous peoples leading the movement, subjecting the movement to settler assumptions about Indigenous resistance. This research employs a qualitatively-based content analysis of 80 news articles reporting on the DAPL protest. These articles range in political bias and can be categorized in one of the following groups: Conservative Bias, Liberal Bias, Mainstream News, Local News, and Indigenous News. Commonly occurring codes and themes are analysed across each category. Word count and frequency of reporting are also considered to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the media representations as they develop through time. While the non-Indigenous-led media commonly cites water security and destruction of sacred sites as the reasons for protest, the Indigenous led media also cites treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, economic vulnerability, climate change, and colonial history more frequently, indicating a multi-dimensional and more holistic understanding of the movement and the Indigenous experience. The mainstream of U.S. reporting on the DAPL protests perpetuate a reductive, one-dimensional framing of the daily struggles of Indigenous Americans by ignoring the impacts of ongoing settler colonial operations.

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