North Dakota Pipeline Protest – TOK version

Updated article on the situation at Standing Rock available here.

Starting off:

Before working with the information below, have a look at these tasks and discuss the differences between the indigenous world view and the western world view.


The Pipeline conflict:

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), also known as the Bakken Pipeline, is proposed to transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. In August 2016, the final finances were secured for the project and construction started.


The proposed route crosses the Missouri River at the confluence with the Cannon Ball river, an area that is of utmost cultural, spiritual and environmental significance. The confluence is an important location for the Mandan origin story, as the place where they came into the world after the great flood. Where the two waters meet, at one time created Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí, spherical Sacred Stones. There are historic burial grounds, village grounds and Sundance sites which would be directly impacted by the pipeline. The water of the Missouri River is essential to life on the Standing Rock Reservation as well as all of the nations and states downstream.

The current route of the DAPL will cross over the Ogallala Aquifer (one of the largest aquifers in the world) and under the Missouri River twice (the longest river in the United States). The possible contamination of these water sources makes the Dakota Access pipeline a national threat.

(Adapted from – the website for the pipeline protesters)


For more information about the conflict, have a look at these news clips and the pipeline website:

Report from (2:28 min):

CBC News visits the camp (2:22min):

Lawrence O´Donnell talks about the issues in the conflict (5:02 min):

DAPL website about the planned project:



  1. What are the different sides in this conflict? Summarize the conflict in your own words.
  2. Can you relate this conflict to what you learnt in the video on indigenous and western world views that you watched at the start?
  3. What knowledge questions are there in this conflict? Take a couple of minutes to brainstorm and write down all your ideas. Then discuss them and find your best questions.


Indigenous voices:

Look at the links below about the protesters from Native American nations and their thoughts and feelings about the pipeline:

Photo report from the protest:

Interview with protesters (video at the bottom of the article 2:28min):

Blog post by an indigenous woman about the protest:



4. Why do the indigenous people feel the way they do about the pipeline? How can these be link to indigenous ways of knowing?

5. Discuss the eight ways of knowing in ToK. How are they used in indigenous knowledge systems?

7. Indigenous knowledge systems are often holistic, which means that knowledge and ways of knowing all interconnect. Discuss how the holistic knowledge systems of Native American nations can be seen in their arguments against the pipeline.

8. What environment issues are there in the country in which you live?  What are the conflicts in these issues? Which knowledge questions do they raise? Which ways of knowing are involved in them?