Two communities, who have misunderstood each other for centuries, are thrust into a historical conflict once again, over the Dakota Access Pipeline project and the desire for more United States energy infrastructure. 

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Documentary Teaser


Two communities, who have misunderstood each other for centuries, are thrust into a historical conflict once again, over the Dakota Access Pipeline project and the desire for more United States energy infrastructure. 


Series Hosts 
Nicole Montclair-Donaghy & James Kambeitz


Filmmakers and community leaders, Nicole Montclair-Donaghy (Standing Rock) & James Kambeitz (North Dakotan), have spent the last several years, filming, participating, and researching the No-DAPL conflict. 


Project Goals

To tell the story of Standing Rock through finding an understanding. Understand the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Dakotans, what happened with the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, and how to understand how to move forward as a community.

Project Specs

Format 4k
Over 10,000 + hours of footage filmed
Exclusive access to Standing Rock Leaders

Story History

The Standing Rock Nations' Water Protector movement in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) gained worldwide support, but local people of the Dakotas viewed the experience very differently. Throughout history the Missouri River was seen as a connection, a trading point between Indigenous communities and homesteaders. But after DAPL, the river has divided the communities more than ever before.

To understand what happened at Standing Rock, you must first understand the history of the Oceti Sakowin (Očhéthi Šakówiŋ) Territory, the Dakota Territory,  and the unique relationships Indigenous and European settlers had with the land, the Missouri river, and each other. 


The people of the Inyan Woslata Oyate (Standing Rock Nation) and the United States are thrust into conflict when Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a billion-dollar energy company decided to build the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) across multiple sites on the Missouri River.  

The Dakotas are made up of Indigenous inhabitants, and European immigrants both rich in culture and community. North Dakota is also the home to six Tribal Nations. These communities share a complex history of assimilation, migration, settlement, turbulence, negotiation, warring, and at times peaceful eras with their neighbors.

This history of our regional cultures and conflicts has impacted societal norms, perceptions, and behaviors as we live and experience them today. These norms informed how the non-Native people reacted to a Tribe’s plea to protect water. Traumas and wounds from the past were reopened on both sides during this conflict.

Understanding Rock shares a unique perspective that has not yet been told.

What if we were born on the other side of the river?

Our story examines the perspective of both sides: water protectors and pipeline supporters.

Local people, from the Dakotas, who lived through the conflict remain here now after the camps have closed.

Our story chronicles the history of the Dakotas and their complicated relationship with Indigenous people and energy infrastructure projects.

We contextualize “why” of all the places in the world, the NODAPL movement happened here, along the banks of the Missouri River.

Our interviews, gathered over several years, detail Indigenous people leading the charge for change, government decision-makers, media spokespeople, and local people who support the pipeline, and those that did not.

No story has yet to evaluate what happened here during the NODAPL conflict, specifically through the voices of North Dakotans and local filmmakers seeking a path toward reconciliation and change in their community. And, how Standing Rock awakened the world.

This is that story. 

Expected Project Outcomes

A Bridge Toward Important Dialogues

There are many dialogues that our communities will need to have to heal the cultural divisions. Our film will facilitate those conversations and also present some possible road maps for how we can create a much healthier, more inclusive, and prosperous future community together. 

Screening Events to Lead Discussions & Get Community Feedback

As a pilot, we hosted an event bringing two leaders from the State of ND and Standing Rock Nation together to listen to, understand, and learn from one another through a unique event. With the help of ND Council on the Arts artist grants, we created a safe space where meaningful, difficult, and thoughtful conversations can happen. We created short North Dakota-made video clips to spark conversation about the cultural differences and misunderstandings brought to light in our community during the DAPL controversy and how to move forward as good neighbors.

Planting Seeds for Future Events

We hope this is the first of a series of events, expanding with other community members to understand the effect DAPL had on our communities and begin mending relations. We believe a conversation with our leaders on the journey North & South Dakota and Standing Rock went on during the DAPL/NO-DAPL conflict would provide an opening for healing in the community. 


We need your help to tell this important story. Please consider contributing to our project.