The Dakota Access Pipeline is designed to run from North Dakota to Illinois, a 1,200-mile stretch of oil transport that could potentially impact many millions of lives. An impassioned protest movement began to grow once the construction of the pipeline was announced in early 2016. Leading the charge was the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, an indigenous tribe located in North and South Dakota. The feature-length documentary Black Snake Killaz follows the tribe and the tens of thousands they inspired to join them as they fight to protect their basic human rights against the cancer of unregulated corporate greed.
"Our children deserve to have clean water," one protestor insists. The resistance understands that such a pipeline will tread upon sacred ground, and make vulnerable the precious natural resources that have been lovingly preserved for further generations.
The filmmakers stand right beside these protestors on the front lines of a standoff that captures the world's attention. Between April of 2016 and March of the following year, the water protectors work to block the path of construction vehicles, render digging equipment inoperable, and expose the tyranny of institutions that suppress the voice of the people. In a show of national solidarity, activists from other states including Rhode Island and New York join together to protest the banks that finance the pipeline operation.
During this tumultuous period, members of law enforcement are encouraged to regard the protestors as criminal combatants. The Governor of North Dakota withdraws supplies from the growing masses who have gathered to join the protest from all across the country, and orders a mandatory evacuation of their campgrounds. Attack dogs are deployed, hundreds are arrested and many injuries are sustained. Mainstream media outlets cover the growing tensions during their 24-hour news cycles while both parties accuse the other of escalating an atmosphere of violence.
Blessed with extraordinary access, Black Snake Killaz places viewers in the thick of these perilous events, and introduces us to the brave figures who fight for their homes, heritage and traditions. While construction of the pipeline has ultimately not been thwarted, many victories have been won along the way; perhaps none greater than the hordes of activists who have coalesced from every region of the United States and beyond.