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'First Daughter and the Black Snake': Screening of award-winning documentary at DL's Holmes Theater to feature LaDuke, film's director

Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, protests the Enbridge pipeline called the 'SandPiper Line' and Line 3. (Photo by Keri Pickett)1 / 4
Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, embarks on a horse ride against the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline. (Photo by Keri Pickett)2 / 4
Producer and director Keri Pickett, left, with White Earth environmental activist, rural economist and author, Winona LaDuke, as she travels to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
Winona LaDuke joins the 1855 Treaty Authority as tribal members harvest wild rice without a Minnesota state permit. (Photo by Keri Pickett)4 / 4

Callaway-based nonprofit environmental organization Honor the Earth is partnering with Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre to host a screening of the national award winning documentary, "First Daughter and the Black Snake," this Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m.

A dinner with traditional Anishinaabe foods will be served, followed by the film screening and discussion. Tickets are $20 for one person or $30 for two people, and will be available at the door. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please call 218-375-3200 or visit the website at

"First Daughter and the Black Snake" follows environmental activist Winona LaDuke's family, friends and fellow activists in the fight against Enbridge, a Canadian Oil company, seeking to put in the Sandpiper, a 640,000 barrel a day fracked oil pipeline across a new corridor in Northern Minnesota.The Sandpiper project was defeated after a four year battle, and this film chronicles that story, from 2014 onwards. More recently, the Enbridge Corporation has proposed a new pipeline through the same route: Line 3, a 915,000-barrel-a-day tar sands pipeline, which is currently in the regulatory process.

LaDuke is scheduled to attend the dinner and film screening, along with the film's producer and director, Keri Pickett, and they will also be answering questions afterwards.

"It's a rare doubleheader," says Pickett, referring to the fact that their busy schedules often prevent LaDuke and Pickett from attending screenings of the film together.

Pickett says that she has known LaDuke since the late 1980s.

"I was about 24 or 25 when I first met Winona, and over the years I've had a number of photojournalistic assignments to cover her," she said — including the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign, when LaDuke was first tapped to run as the vice presidential candidate alongside Green Party candidate Ralph Nader (she would also serve as Nader's running mate in 2000). "I was asked to photograph Winona for People magazine.

"I've tried to keep an eye on her over the years, because I'm so impressed with her level of civic engagement and just being someone who's constantly trying to right a wrong," Pickett said of LaDuke. "That's something that's at the center of what I'm interested in covering with my art. "So in 2013 when I saw Enbridge announced they wanted to put a pipeline right through her wild rice territory, I wanted to see how she would respond and what would happen."

As Pickett was just finishing up production of her first documentary film, "The Fabulous Ice Age," she was unable to be present for the first occurrence of what LaDuke would call her annual "Ride Against the Current of Oil," but she followed her and her fellow activities on the 2014, 2015 and 2016 spiritual rides, as well as related efforts to keep Sandpiper and Line 3 pipelines from out of treaty protected lands and sacred wild-rice lakes.

"It starts in 2014 and covers a two-year period," says Pickett, noting that for this film, she chose to use a 'cinema verite" style — also known as observational filmmaking — which uses real-time footage rather than a narrative voice to tell its story.

"I do have a few interviews that are slipped in here and there, but for most of the film, you're there with everyone as life is happening," she said. "The scenes unfold with a sense of real time, so it feels like you're taking the journey with them."

Pickett adds that the film's title comes from LaDuke's belief that "big oil is the black snake predicted in indigenous prophecy to bring the earth's destruction."

Completed last year, the film has been winning national awards at events such as the International Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival, Red Nations, and Portland EcoFilm Festivals, while Pickett has won a Best Feature Film award and Winona LaDuke the EcoHero award. Pickett is also a 2018 McKnight Artist Fellow in Media Arts.

For more information about "First Daughter and the Black Snake," please visit the film's website at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454