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Our Best Photos of 2018

Pacific Standard documented people's struggles and successes with big societal problems, across the country and the world.

In 2018, writers and photographers traveled the globe for Pacific Standard, bringing back stories of indigenous people's struggles for land rights and the decline of camels—really—worldwide. We visited communities across America, too, documenting their struggles and successes in solving their societies' biggest problems.

Below are some of our favorite photos from the year, and the stories they told.

A Mongolian boy with a Bactrian camel, the two-humped animal that lives in Central and East Asia and is shaggier than its desert-dwelling, single-humped counterpart.

A Mongolian boy with a Bactrian camel, which is furrier than camels that live in hot deserts. More frequent droughts and harsher winters, due to climate change, are making camel-herding a tougher business for Mongolians, as Roger Chapman found in his photo essay.


Jeff Wood and Terri Been, brother and sister, pose during a visit. Wood has been on death row for 21 years, for driving the getaway car after a fatal armed robbery. Been opened up to writer Sabine Heinlein about her fight to win clemency for Wood.

Monarch, the grizzly's stuffed pelt, acquired in 1953, California Academy of Sciences.

This is Monarch, the taxidermied grizzly bear that served as the model for the bruin on California's state flag. Monarch was captured as an adult and lived in the San Francisco Zoo for more than 20 years, until he died in 1911. He was one of the last California grizzlies—but conservationists are lobbying to reintroduce Ursus arctos to the Golden State.

Photo showing two young adults playing on an icy stretch in front of a Greenlandic village (hi res version)

Young residents of Nuuk, Greenland, play on an icy hill. Rural Greenlandic settlements are losing population as people leave for higher education and jobs. Women are particularly likely to move away, as traditional gender roles are often still entrenched in small villages, and the available jobs—like hunting and fishing—are male-dominated.

Collage of 16 photos showing villagers, including babies and children, holding up their right fists

Former residents of the village of Sitio Datalbonglangon raise their fists in a gesture of solidarity. Villagers—members of an indigenous group called the T'boli-Dulangan Manobo—fled their homes after a bloody incident, during which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines rained gunfire down into the village. Eight T'boli-Dulangan Manobo and two soldiers died.

The military says that the village leaders were members of the New People's Army, a communist guerrilla group. Villagers say they are not, and that the government chased them off of their land in order to develop it.

Waves lap the north coast of Tangier Island, an area known as Uppards that was inhabited until 1929. Grave markers of the local population's ancestors are regularly found on these eroded beaches.

Scientists think that Tangier Island, off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, will be uninhabitable within 25 years. Most residents, however, don't believe sea levels are rising.

An evening gathering at Sacred Stone Village.

Writer Kelly Hayes visited Standing Rock, North Dakota, several times during protests there against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe worried would destroy cultural sites and could leak, contaminating the tribe's drinking water. Eventually, in 2017, a judge ruled against a motion to stop construction of the pipeline. Law enforcement cleared out the protest camps, and the pipeline was completed and began carrying oil.

Hayes spoke with protesters after the defeat: "Native activists say they are carrying the lessons, skills, and tactics of the NoDAPL movement forward," she writes.