WOMEN IN THE FRACKLANDS
On water, bodies, and Standing Rock
On Magpie Road, the colors are in riot. Sharp blue sky over green
and yellow tall grass that rises and falls like water in the North
Dakota wind. Magpie Road holds no magpies, only robins and
partridge and crows. A group of magpies is called a tiding, a gulp,
a murder, a charm. When the men in the pickup make their first
pass, there on the road, you are photographing the grass against
sky, an ordinary bird blurring over a lone rock formation.
You do not photograph the men, but if you had, you might
have titled it “Father and Son Go Hunting.” They wear camou-
flage, and their mouths move in animation or argument. They
have their windows down, as you have left those in your own
car down the road.
Magpie Road lies in the middle of the 1,028,051 acres that
make up the Little Missouri National Grasslands in western
North Dakota. Magpie Road lies about two hundred miles north
and west of the Standing Rock Reservation, where thousands
of indigenous people and their allies came together to protect
the water, where sheri=’s men and pipeline men and National
Guardsmen donned their riot gear, where those men still wait,
where they still hold tight to their riot gear.