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CRST documentary lauds unsung Lakota heroes

A gathering of protestors during the No DAPL movement.

A gathering of protestors during the No DAPL movement.

EAGLE BUTTE — The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe world premiered a documentary titled, The Water Protectors of Wakpa Waste. The film premiered at on December 21.

According to a press release from the tribe, the documentary tells the stories of water protectors who are the “unsung Lakota heroes who led the historic fight against Big Oil and corporate greed at Standing Rock and the modern warriors who are gearing up to continue this fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

The film captures the tribe’s role at the forefront of the battle in “rarely-seen footage of the brutal confrontations at Standing Rock.” Unlike its sister tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River’s contributions during the NoDAPL movement has been disproportionately documented, until now.

The film aims to change the popular narrative of what took place at Standing Rock.

“These are the voices and the faces of the true heart of Indian Country—voices who have never been heard on cable news and faces that have never been featured on a meme. They are the tribal leaders, the grassroots Lakota warriors, modern lawyer warriors, and the everyday Lakota people who have devoted their lives to ensuring a clean and healthy environment for future generations,” the press release states.

In the documentary, the tribe explains its concerns about the devastating risks both the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipelines impose on the Missouri and Cheyenne Rivers, both of which are important water sources for the tribe and other communities down the river.

The film features CRST tribal member Nikki Ducheneaux, lead attorney on the Dakota Access Pipeline litigation, as she explains the legal uphill battles and recent court victories.

According to the press release, “The fight to protect the Earth is long, arduous, and expensive, and the tribe can’t fight the fight alone,” and the tribe “calls on the American people to stand up with the tribe and join this fight, and help finance this fight.”

At the end of the film, CRST tribal member and renowned activist, Joye Braun, asks viewers to donate what they can to help the tribe with legal fees.

CRST Tribal Chairman issued a message of unity in fighting the pipelines.

“I’ve always said that the American government has failed us, but so far, the American people have not. We’ve got to have that unity, to stay together as one. It’s the only way that we will defeat these pipelines, but also defeat poverty, racism. We’ve got to stick together. Because in the end, all we have is each other,” said Chairman Frazier.

The documentary was directed by Salish filmmaker, Jessi Roullier, was filmed on location on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and features interviews with numerous tribal members, including spiritual leaders, veterans, and elders.

The film can be viewed at

(Correspondent Alaina Adakai can be reached at

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