[Above] “Dakota Access Pipeline – Native Americans Protest DAPL – What is the story? Why the media blackout?” (2016). Courtesy of Proper Gander, Video Link.

Water is Life:

[Above] “Why Are The Sioux Fighting The North Dakota Access Pipeline,” (2016). Courtesy of AJ+, Video Link.

Two Bulls, Marty. No DAPL: Make a Stand, Water is Life. Political Cartoon. From Indian Country Today Media Network, September 5, 2016. (Accessed December 1, 2016).
Two Bulls, Marty. Make a Stand: Water is Life. 2016, South Dakota. “Illustration supporting the protectors (as opposed to protesters) for the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Image Link. © Marty Two Bulls

Marty Two Bulls is the artist of the two political cartoons [Left]. Two Bulls is an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.[1] On Two Bulls’ website, he states that he “write[s] [his] cartoons from a Native point of view on political issues that are important to Native people.”[2] His work reflects grassroots style efforts in which Native Americans are engaging other perspectives and stakeholders in order to reflect their reality and incite discussion for their demands. In the book From the Ground Up, Cole and Foster stated that most environmental justice activists are grassroots activists, usually led by local people who are personally affected by the environmental issues.[3] These cartoons can be found online on his website and with basic google searches of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have gained attention both in the Native American community as well as outside, and have started dialogue between the two.

Two Bulls, Marty. Dakota Access Pipeline Protest. 2016, South Dakota, Image Link.
Two Bulls, Marty. Dakota Access Pipeline Protest. 2016, South Dakota, Image Link. © Marty Two Bulls

The first “Water is Life” cartoon calls for its audience to make a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is particularly interesting because of its depiction of a woman and her child that invoke more humanizing and protective emotions. Two Bulls relates the statement “water is life” with a child, and redefines the image of what needs to be protected in a way that many mothers and families can relate to. The image shows why so many women and families are fighting for and to protect their rights to water for themselves and for their children. Both political cartoons use children as a symbol of the resistance to the pipeline. In the second political cartoon, Two Bulls portrays the Dakota Access Pipeline to its Native American term for it of “Black Snake.” The snake has four heads representing money, gas, police and death. These have all been threatening the Sioux Tribe throughout the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline. By using a child to represent the victim, Two Bulls illustrates a sense of vulnerability in size (when compared to the forces of the black snake), the peaceful protests of the Sioux Tribe, and a symbol of life (in a similar way as the first cartoon did). The fact that the child is saying, “But all I want is clean water,” shows the nonthreatening requests of many Native Americans resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline for their basic rights that have been continuously taken from them.


[1] “Native American Cartoonist.” Native American Cartoonist. Accessed November 10, 2016.

[2] “Native American Cartoonist.” Native American Cartoonist. Accessed November 10, 2016.

[3] Luke Cole and Sheila Foster. From the Ground Up. (New York: NYU Press, 2000), 33.