Local journalists elevate storytelling to high art in chronicling Bakken

Last June four Montana journalists set off for the Bakken region to do in depth coverage of the past, present and future of the region.

American Gothic: Jim and Sharon Lundquist. Courtesy High Plains Project. Click to enlarge.

American Gothic: Jim and Sharon Lundquist. Courtesy High Plains Project. Click to enlarge.

Their goal, in what they have called The High Plains Heritage Project, is to produce a full documentary by this fall, but their aim is much richer than that. Stan Parker, one of the four, says,: “This is going to be an engaging way to experience this region — this moment — through movies, still images, and written word. There are so many unique voices, and we want our audience to sincerely feel like they’re meeting all of these people, too.”

Pete Tolton, another member of the group, points out that most of the news coverage of the boom has centered on the rapid growth, environmental impacts and soaring crime rates. “These are important issues,” he says. “But we want to focus on a part of this story that gets overlooked — individual people in the area’s small communities. We have lots of personal narratives to tell.”

Night Shift - Near Watford City. Courtesy High Plains Project. Click to enlarge.

Night Shift – Near Watford City. Photograph by Jessica Jane Hart. Click to enlarge.

If you care about the impact of oil and gas drilling, you won’t want to miss the documentary, but I hope you’ll check out their web site, created during the three weeks they spent in the area in June. On the site you’ll find short video clips (most about two minutes), audio stories, features and photos.

To entice you, here are a couple of their videos. Head on over to the site to check out the rest. These are stories that you won’t find elsewhere. They give you a feeling for the nuance of how the oil and gas boom has impacted the region. And they might give you an inkling of what “bringing the Bakken to the Beartooths” might really mean.

The story of Trevor and Andrea, who have come to Watford City to seek their fortunes:


A quick video of license plates in the Williston Walmart shows that the Bakken has attracted workers from everywhere:

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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