This story is published in collaboration with Rolling Stone.
On election night in 2016, two young women drove toward a construction site off Highway 7 in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County. Their car contained a half dozen empty coffee canisters, several quarts of motor oil, and a pile of rags.
Throughout the previous summer, the two women — Ruby Montoya, then a 27-year-old former preschool teacher, and Jessica Reznicek, then a 35-year-old activist — had tried everything they could legally do to stop or delay the development of the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline, or DAPL. Both women believed the pipeline would inevitably leak the crude oil it was designed to carry from North Dakota to Illinois, contaminating drinking water and soil. They’d already attended public hearings, gathered signatures for environmental impact statements, and participated in marches, rallies, boycotts, encampments, and hunger strikes. They’d even locked themselves to the backhoes that were used to excavate the pipeline. Between the two of them, they’d also logged a handful of arrests.
But all those measures failed to permanently halt c... Read more