Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Greg Johnson

Second Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Third Advisor

Clint Carroll

Fourth Advisor

Holly Gayley


This thesis examines the intersections of prophecy, ceremony, and refusal as seen in the Standing Rock Mni Wiconi movement. A Lakota end-of-time prophecy states that a Black Snake will come and kill off the people. At Standing Rock, the pipeline has been interpreted by some to be that of the Black Snake presented in the prophecy. I bridge together my observations of ceremony and prophecy in the camps with an analysis of refusal. In my discussion of ceremony within the camps, as seen in prayers, offerings, water ceremonies, and direct actions, I argue that these ritual acts can be understood through an analytical framework of refusal. Refusal is, thus, performed through various ritual acts and prophetic speech acts by Water Protectors in the Mni Wiconi movement to stop the construction of DAPL.