Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 23, 2022

North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival 2022: Films from Standing Rock and Beyond

North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival 2022: Films from Standing Rock and Beyond

The North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival in April features powerful films about Water Protectors, including Oyate, Warrior Women, and We Are Water Protectors.

Indigenous protecting the land, water and air are featured in films from the north, south and South Pacific, from Colombia, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand. Watch at Fargo April 21 -- 23, and online April 23 -- May 1. 

Here's just a sample of the trailers and films, see more at the film guide: 


In the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Indigenous people across the nation are using their newfound platform to shed light on the wide array of injustices committed against them in an effort to wake up the world and embark upon the process of decolonization. Following key figureheads of the #NODAPL movement, OYATE weaves together the story of colonization and the battle for decolonization that continues after the news cameras have stopped rolling.

'We Are Water Protectors'
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource.
A trailer for the Scholastic/Weston Woods film "We Are Water Protectors", based on the book by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade. Adapted and directed by Galen Fott. Music composed by Ernest Troost. Animated effects by Bigfott Studios. Produced by Lori Benton, Paul R. Gagne, and Melissa R. Ellard.


Warrior Women

WARRIOR WOMEN is the story of mothers and daughters fighting for Native rights in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s. The film unveils not only a female perspective of history but also examines the impact political struggles have on the children who bear witness.

In the 1970s, with the swagger of unapologetic Indianness, organizers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) fought for Native liberation and survival as a community of extended families.

WARRIOR WOMEN is the story of Madonna Thunder Hawk, one such AIM leader who shaped a kindred group of activists' children - including her daughter Marcy - into the "We Will Remember" Survival School as a Native alternative to government-run education. Together, Madonna and Marcy fought for Native rights in an environment that made them more comrades than mother-daughter. Today, with Marcy now a mother herself, both are still at the forefront of Native issues, fighting against the environmental devastation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for Indigenous cultural values.

Through a circular Indigenous style of storytelling, this film explores what it means to navigate a movement and motherhood and how activist legacies are passed down and transformed from generation to generation in the context of colonizing government that meets Native resistance with violence.

Winner: NDERFF 2022 Best Documentary Feature Award.



With the Vaquita Porpoise on the brink of extinction, two brothers who collaborate as wildlife artists leave their studio behind and head to a small fishing town in Mexico. They board the M/V Farley Mowat to experience the front-line fight between ocean conservationists Sea Shepherd and the poachers, backed by the Mexican cartel, who are devastating countless marine species.

Caught up in a tale of greed and corruption, they witness a battle that seems all but lost and find themselves questioning their place in the world. Can they use their craft to take action amidst today’s Sixth Mass Extinction?

Restoring Néške'emāne

 In the 19th century, Native American children were sent to boarding schools designed to “Kill the Indian… Save the Man”, destroying Tribal languages, cultural values, practices, and traditions through assimilation.

In Oklahoma, generations of Native Americans were educated through the Concho Indian School from 1871 to 1984. The abandoned school buildings have remained for 40 years, riddled with toxins that have leached into the community.

Restoring Néške'emāne follows environmentalist Damon Dunbar who has a dream of restoring the land, preserving tribal history, and honoring the attendees of the Concho Indian School in order to speak truth to history.

Winner: NDERFF 2022 Best Documentary Short Award.

Colombia: 'Who Runs the Atrato River'

A river in Colombia, poisoned by illegal gold mining, is recognized as a living being by the country's highest court. What does this mean for the people who live there? The 'rights of nature is a global trend; the Ganges in India and the Whanganui River in New Zealand are also part of the story.


TAIAO explores how we as multicultural people use New Zealand’s natural environment through a nonverbal, documentary experience; comparing the wonders of our taiao, our nature, and the advent of man. Communicating the consequences of our industries and our reckoning with colonization non-verbally allows us to glimpse a sustainable, equitable future while acknowledging an unsustainable present.


The Bathurst caribou herd has roamed Canada’s arctic since time immemorial. Tragically, in just the last 30 years, their population has dropped from half a million to less than ten thousand. The Tłı̨chǫ people have an intimate connection with the Bathurst. The herd has been a source of food, clothing, and deep culture. However, a future without the Bathurst has become a very real possibility.

Winner: NDERFF 2022 Best Cinematography Award.


Welcome to the North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival.
We're thrilled to have you join us for an extraordinary hybrid presentation. This year, we're proud to curate over 20 films created by filmmakers from around the world.

Experience the festival in-person April 21-23 at the historic Fargo Theatre, or stream online April 23-May 1.

Live and pre-recorded conversations with the filmmakers and casts from films throughout the festival will occur throughout the festival, so keep an eye on our schedule to participate in the discussions.

Get an All-Access Theatrical and Online Pass to experience all of the films and community discussions in-person at the Fargo Theatre or our online portals.

Theatrical Only, Online Only, and individual tickets are also available.

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