A Different American Dream

"The oil industry is probably the most egregious of all industries. These are the same
people who brought us the Exxon Valdez, who polluted the Gulf of Mexico, so why wouldn’t they
snicker about something as trivial as some brush that maybe a few thousand Indians find sacred?" -Biron Baker, M.D., Tribal Doctor



Running time

1' 24"

Directed by

Simon Brook

Produced by

Jane Wells

Distributed by

3 Generations

A Different American Dream follows the remarkable attempts of some tribal leaders to save their land and the future of their society.

On the edge of the magnificent Badlands in Western North Dakota, lies the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to 6500 members of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes. There the night sky burns with a thousand points of light from the flaring oil wells; these are not lights of hope but the flames of a new version of hell. When the largest shale oil field in North America was discovered on the reservation, the explosion of industry brought sweeping changes to daily life. The landscape is now littered with oil wells, fracking towers, and toxic waste dumps.  The average life expectancy on the reservation has alarmingly dropped to just 57, compared to 79 in the rest of the state. Some members of the tribe have profited from mineral rights, but this fleeting bubble of wealth, which sits alongside widespread poverty, threatens to destroy the social fabric of the community. Sickness and disease, brought by the boom, are fracturing ancestral land and culture.

A Different American Dream follows the story of this upheaval and the remarkable attempts of tribal leaders to save their land and the future of their society. Their journey is part of a broader story, which raises universal questions: What is the true meaning of wealth and home?

3 Generations is committed to supporting the rights, culture, land and health of all Native American tribes in the United States.

Related videos

Support a production

We don’t just make films. We offer concrete steps our audiences can take to make tangible change. See how you can get involved. Join our community of activists.

Support Us