Thunderhawk Media

Read the full amended complaint, Thunderhawk v. County of Morton, filed February 1, 2019.

Thunderhawk v. County of Morton

Last Updated: February 2, 2021

Cissy Thunderhawk, Wašté Win Young, the Reverend John Floberg, and José Zhagnay filed a class action lawsuit on Oct. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota challenging a number of civil rights violations that arose during the Standing Rock movement to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). They are represented by Professor Noah Smith-Drelich, Assistant Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, attorney Amy Knight, and Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, founding director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.

Developments and news coverage will be updated below:



Brown, Alleen, Naveena Sadasivam, "After Spying on Standing Rock, TigerSwan Shipped Anti-Protest 'Counterinsurgency' to Other Oil Companies," Intercept, April 13, 2023.

"Recent Court Filings Reveal $17 Million in Payments from Dakota Access LLC to TigerSwan," Press Release, October 1, 2021.

"The Streets Belong to the People — Always Have, Always Will," ACLU, February 5, 2021.

"American Civil Liberties Union Files Amicus Brief in Standing Rock Thunderhawk Litigation," Press Release, February 2, 2021. 

"Standing Rock Thunderhawk Litigation Advances in Appeals Court and in Discovery Toward Trial," Press Release, January 25, 2021.

"Standing Rock Legal Team at Columbia Law School Challenges Delaying Trial For Qualified Immunity Appeal," Press Release, October 26, 2020.

Norell, Brenda. "Fed. Court Sets August Trial Date for Thunderhawk v. Morton County — Standing Rock Civil Rights Lawsuit," Censored News, September 25, 2020.

"Federal Court Sets August Trial Date for Standing Rock Civil Rights Lawsuit," Press Release, September 25, 2020. 

"North Dakota’s request to dismiss road closure suit denied," AP, September 3, 2020.

Norell, Brenda. "Standing Rock Civil Rights Lawsuit Moves Forward: Thunderhawk vs Morton County," Censored News, September 3, 2020.

"Federal Court Allows Civil Rights Lawsuit Challenging Violations at Standing Rock," Press Release, September 3, 2020.

Nicholson, Blake. "Government: Highway shutdown not aimed at tribe, media," AP, February 22, 2019.

"Standing Rock defendants move to dismiss on basis of factual disputes," Indian Country Today, February 17, 2019.

"Standing Rock Defendants Move to Dismiss on Basis of Factual Disputes," Press Release, February 15, 2019.

Nicholson, Blake. "Protest highway shutdown lawsuit claims include extortion," AP, February 8, 2019.

Gosztola, Kevin. "Lawsuit Over Highway Shutdown During #NoDAPL Protests Alleges Attempt to Extort Standing Rock Sioux," Shadowproof, February 4, 2019.

"Standing Rock Plaintiffs File First Amended Complaint," Indian Country Today, February 2, 2019.

"Standing Rock Plaintiffs File First Amended Complaint," Press Release, February 1, 2019.

Nicholson, Blake. "North Dakota officials ask judge to dismiss lawsuit over highway closure during pipeline protests," CBC, January 14, 2019.

Kelly, Sharon. "Energy Transfer, Banks Lost Billions by Ignoring Early Dakota Access Pipeline Concerns," DeSmog, December 3, 2018.

Brady, Jeff. "2 Years After Standing Rock Protests, Tensions Remain But Oil Business Booms," NPR, November 29, 2018.

Nauman, Talli. "Water Protectors File Class Action Suit Over DAPL," Intercontinental Cry, November 1, 2018.

Gosztola, Kevin "Morton County Sheriff, Tigerswan Face Lawsuit for Blocking Water Protectors' Travel and Assembly During DAPL Construction," Shadowproof, October 30, 2018.

Gosztola, Kevin. "Counterinsurgency on Steroids: Interview with Bernard Harcourt on Trump, Cesar Sayoc, and the Counterrevolution," Shadowproof, October 29, 2018.

Horn, Steve. "TigerSwan, County Sheriff Sued Over Road Blockade During Dakota Access Pipeline Protests," DeSmog, October 26, 2018.

"Columbia Law School Lecturer Noah Smith-Drelich and Professor Bernard E. Harcourt Challenge Standing Rock Civil Rights Violations," Press Release, October 26, 2018.

Nicholson, Blake. "Lawsuit filed over highway shutdown during pipeline protest," Associated Press, October 23, 2018.

Norell, Brenda. "Standing Rock Water Protectors File Class Action Lawsuit Against Morton County, North Dakota and TigerSwan," Censored News, October 22, 2018.

Selected Court Filings:

Thunderhawk et al. files Civil Rights Class Action First Amended Complaint for Damages at the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, February 1, 2019.

Thunderhawk et al. files Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss TigerSwan's Counterclaim at the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, February 1, 2019.

Thunderhawk et al. files Civil Rights Class Action Complaint for Damages, Declaratory, and Injunctive Relief at the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, October 18, 2018.

Research, Seminars, and Panels:

Seminar on Standing Rock: "Standing Ground," Uprising 12/13, April 12, 2018, with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (author and artist), Julian Brave NoiseCat (author), and Nicole Willis (political consultant), moderated by Jaskiran Dhillon and Bernard E. Harcourt, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought.