Smithsonian Unveils a Nearly 12-Foot-Tall Post Created by Activists Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline

October 25, 2017
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian unveiled an 11.5-foot-tall mile-marker post Oct. 24. The post was handmade by activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and it comes from the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) protest camp on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation bordered by North Dakota. It was donated to the museum by Hickory Edwards (Onondaga) on behalf of the protestors and installed in the permanent exhibition about treaties, “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.”

“Part of the point of ‘Nation to Nation’ is that the treaties in the exhibition remain alive and influential,” said Kevin Gover, director of the museum. “Their meaning and effect are still being evaluated and contested. All Americans inherit these rights, Indian and non-Indian alike. This is playing out in front of us right now at Standing Rock.”

The Horse Creek (Fort Laramie) Treaty of 1852, which is shown elsewhere in the exhibition, defined the lands of the Sioux. An 1868 treaty revised the boundaries but guaranteed the Sioux “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation.” The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe rose up in defense of these guarantees when a private company built a pipeline that they assert threatens their lands and water. A key issue for the tribe was protecting treaty rights and the right to be consulted as a government.

When more than 12,000 indigenous people and their allies from around the globe joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protest a pipeline built without adequately consulting the Native Nation most affected, they created this mile-marker post to show how far some had travelled.

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., the museum is open each day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). It is accessible from L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail station via the Maryland Avenue/Smithsonian Museums exit. Follow the museum via social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit

To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit


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Bethany Bentley

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Eileen Maxwell

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