YES! Magazine Standing Rock reporter Jenni Monet has won the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for her work documenting the Standing Rock Sioux’s stand against the Dakota Access pipeline and the global Indigenous movement it amplified.
Monet was nominated for the award by YES! Magazine. The Tobenkin recognizes outstanding achievements in covering racial and religious hatred and intolerance.
“At their heart, her stories were about the religious freedom, sovereignty, and human rights sought by Indigenous people everywhere,” said editorial director Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn in her nomination letter. Monet is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico.
The judges said, “Combining a deeply informed historical, cultural, and political frame of reference with compelling narratives, Monet showed how a deep racial divide, poverty, and marginalization of the Lakota Sioux made their act of resistance and the response by police an episode that was decades in the making.”
To get these stories, Monet took on great personal risk, often dealing with an environment closer to a war zone than civil disobedience on the North Dakota plains. She herself was arrested and charged with trespassing and rioting after getting caught in a police sweep while reporting, despite carrying multiple press credentials. She is still awaiting trial, and YES! launched a campaign to get the county prosecutor to drop charges.
“I’d first like to thank my colleague and friend Mark Trahant and Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz, editorial and creative director at YES! Magazine. They were early chroniclers of the movement at Standing Rock and invited me to join them on this journey, and I am so grateful that they did,” Monet said.
“There were times when I stayed up all night writing because I honestly felt that no one else would, especially following horrific events like the night of Nov. 20, when dozens of demonstrators were hosed down with water in subfreezing temperatures. That story largely happened in a vacuum, just as news has been routinely overlooked for decades from the marginalized reservation communities of the Dakotas. But there was an awakening at Standing Rock, and it has been a treasure to chronicle it. To know that concepts like sovereignty, treaty rights, decolonization, and the overall narrative of the Indigenous struggle has now entered into mainstream conversation, to a degree, makes what I do so much more rewarding.”
Here are a few of Monet’s articles from Standing Rock: