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'Women Are The Ones Who Are The Guardians': Documentary Tells Story Of The Activists Fighting Against The Dakota Access Pipeline

Still from the new documentary, "END OF THE LINE: The Women of Standing Rock."
Shannon Kring
Still from the documentary "End Of The Line: The Women of Standing Rock."

The Dakota Access Pipeline became a national issue in 2016 when activists flocked to North Dakota to protest the construction of the oil pipeline. Native tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux, had opposed the pipeline for years as it threatened key water sources.

When filmmaker Shannon Kring arrived to begin filming the protests, she immediately was struck by the fact that women were running everything at these protest camps.

“I was told that was because women are the ones who are the guardians and the protectors of the water and it’s their duty to be the ones who lead the charge, and so it was only after that first of filming that I realized that this would be a story of just the women,” she says.

After following a group of women who dedicated their lives for this cause for over two years, Kring produced a feature length documentary called End Of The Line: The Women of Standing Rock.

END OF THE LINE: The Women of Standing Rock

“It was women who were running the food tents, who were running the medical, and they were just so calm in the face of such adversity,” she says.

After the Obama administration had paused the construction of the pipeline to conduct a required environmental and cultural impact report and the Trump administration took over in 2017, the project was resumed.

Kring says media attention also died down and people stopped talking about Standing Rock. But these women kept working and were willing to do anything to protect their home.

They were invited to speak at the U.N. in New York and Genova, Switzerland. The women traveled the world and spoke with governments and companies who were investing in the pipeline they were fighting to tell them about the violations that occurred on their land.

The pipeline, which was completed in 2017, now transports 570,000 gallons of oil from North Dakota to Illinois every day and the women continue to fight to shut it down.

Kring hopes people watch the film and see just how hard these activists have fought and how, despite the incredible hardship, they have persevered.

“A group such as this, who really, just no matter what, are going to not back down,” she says.

The documentary will be available to stream through the Milwaukee Film Festival March 22 to 31.

Ben Binversie was a producer with WUWM's Lake Effect program.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.