Everything was supposed to get better after 2016.

2017, or so we thought. Photo by Alice Popkorn/Flickr.

When the history books are written, we believed this year would stand apart as uniquely awful. Annus horribilis. The year from hell. Bad things happened to good people. Great people passed away. Hurricanes raged. Fires burned. "Independence Day: Resurgence" failed to capture the magic of the original.

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This story is from Cody Hall, a Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and former media spokesperson for Red Warrior Camp, as told to Upworthy. It has been edited for content and clarity.

I was there during the siege on sacred ground, when the Dakota Access Pipeline workers came with their earthmovers.

They pushed the earth out, and they dug up rock effigies — what we know as sacred markers of our burial grounds. They pushed everything aside and erased our history. Those meant a lot to us in our Lakota culture, and it was devastating.

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This story is from Tony Sorci, a member of the Navajo nation, about his time spent as a protester at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, as told to Upworthy. It has been edited for content and clarity.

Every morning at 10 o'clock, I walk into the water and say my prayers.

Some people jump into the water, wash their faces, and come right out. It's cold. But I spend a lot of time in the water because that's how I was raised — to say my prayers in the water no matter how cold it got in North Dakota.

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