CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Myron Dewey, a filmmaker and journalist who helped draw worldwide attention to the concerns of Native Americans fighting an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, has died.
Dewey, a Walker River Paiute Tribe member, died in the accident that his car was involved in in rural Nevada on Sunday. The 49 year-old Dewey had posted footage to Twitter from a central Nevada military base, where he was protesting the U.S. Navy’s proposed bombing range expansion.
Dewey’s live footage of the protests in 2016 over the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation was widely praised. It straddles the North Dakota/South Dakota border. After appearing in the news and online, hundreds of thousands viewed Dewey’s images of Native Americans being spray with water cannons during freezing weather.
He later co-directed the documentary “Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock,” which outlined the demonstrators’ motivations — to preserve the environment and fight for clean water.
Friends and relatives will always remember Dewey because of his dedication to Native Americans, his friendship and support for family members and the authenticity of his work.
“He was able to show a perspective and viewpoint that was simply being ignored because of the systemic oppression our people have encountered as long as we’ve been here,” said Dewey’s cousin Lance West. “It was his story to tell, and only someone like him could share it in a manner that really spoke to us.”
Dewey was one of a number of Native journalists who were arrested as he filmed workers at the Dakota Access Pipeline company. He was accused by the Morton County Sheriff of stalking private security personnel using a drone camera recorder. However, prosecutors dropped the charges.
This was only one episode of his long career in documenting Indigenous and environmentally-related issues in North America.
Digital Smoke Signals is a media production company that Dewey started. They produced work about the schools on reservation land in Nevada, and the tribal land management practices of the Pacific Northwest.
He has participated in protests against the proposed lithium mine at the Nevada-Oregon border, and Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation. Local Native Americans and environmentalists oppose the project because it would destroy sacred land that the Northern Paiutes and Western Shoshone revere and cause adverse effects on the environment.
Dewey was a wildland firefighter who lived in Schurz in Nevada. In addition to his work as a professor, he also taught film courses at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.
He left behind five children, a wife and a nephew, whom he considered to be his son.
“His every breath was a fight for his people,” Parker told Indian Country Today, noting Dewey also was passionate about sharing his experiences as a Native American boarding school survivor. “He didn’t want to be silent when others wanted him to be. He didn’t want the atrocities to go unnoticed or unrecognized.”