"A Different American Dream" will be shown for the first time in North America on October 15, 2016 at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City Saturday, October 15. If you live in the area do not miss this opportunity to learn about oil extraction in the Heartland, the challenges faced, and the injustices endured by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes (MHA Nation) at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in Western North Dakota.
Co-written and Produced by Jane Wells (Tricked, The Devil Came on Horseback) and Co-written and Directed by Simon Brook (Indian Summer, The Tightrope), "A Different American Dream" promises to bring viewers into that mythical "flyover country," a world removed from the lights and skyscrapers of New York and the sunny beaches of California. You will enter the reservation and meet unique voices from Native culture, people who happen to live smack dab over some of the largest shale oil deposits discovered in the United States. This is a culture and a landscape beyond imagination. It is spectacular in scenery, horrible in the destruction of what was once beautiful, and all-to-familiar in the aspects of human nature that are revealed.
I have not seen the entire film, but the clips I have viewed suggest the film is true to its subject matter. I spent three summers in the region, documenting the route of the now-defunct Sandpiper Pipeline with colleagues from Winona LaDuke's Honor the Earth.
Fate has intervened to have this film debut at the exact moment in time when The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is doing all that it can through prayer and legal maneuvering to stop this flow of oil from the Bakken and possibly the tar sands of Canada through their sacred lands.
You see, when Native protests finally shut down the ill-planned Sandpiper project, the Enbridge company wasted no time to partner with Texas-based Energy Transfer Inc. and Marathon oil to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline. The DAPL follows almost the exact 1,168 mile route of the abandoned Keystone XL from the Bakken to southern Illinois, where it will connect with pipelines snaking towards the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
It doesn't matter how the oil gets to the refineries. Expediency and markets will determine where the prophesied iron "black snake" will crawl out of the ground and how soon it will devour all in its path.
In response to an email question, Dr. Biron Baker, MD, a Board Certified Family Practitioner and member of MHA Nation offered an interesting and perhaps controversial comparison between Fort Berthold and Standing Rock. The reservations are less than 300 miles apart in geography, but worlds apart in terms of infrastructure.