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tv   Reel America  CSPAN  November 27, 2016 4:00pm-4:31pm EST

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america" brings you archival films for public affair issues. north dakota has been in the news recently as members of the haveing rock sioux tribe been protesting the dakota access oil pipeline, which would cross their ancestral lands and environmentally sensitive areas. rica," wereel ame travel back to the early 1960's, when oil was first discovered in north dakota. "american frontier," funded by the american petroleum oilitute, to promote the exploration of the land for farmers. ♪
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>> the wind blows west from the great lakes. it seems like a wild bird across the northern states. coming at last to this place, this sweep of america. 10,000 square miles of prairie across montana and dakota. they call it the williston basin.
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not so long ago this little closely, if you listen you will hear the old ghost echo of covered wagons. the phantom shadows of pioneers, fighting for their lives against the wilderness. lean men, hard as hickory, lonely women wearing their dreams like a bit of bright calico. they began with nothing. with their hands and a bucket of hope, breaking the land with freedom's plow, planting towns with the names of americans like a banjo tune. fargo, beaver lodge, lincoln valley, williston.
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>> i'm a wheat farmer and a schoolteacher. and raised here, east of montana along the canadian line. williams county, north dakota. if i were somewhere at the end of the earth and thinking of home, the thing that i would remember would be winter. the enormous, frozen silence. fromnow, cutting us off the world like a wall. the wind, slicing across the field. it might seem like a sort of
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desolate place to some, but we are mostly norwegian of this way and we got an old immigrant prayer that goes -- should all things perish, fleeting as a shooting star? god, let not the ties break the bind me to the north. [choral singing] ♪ >> 8:00 monday morning.
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[bell] >> i've already put in an hour of chores at the farm by the time i turn up at the school. one room country schoolhouse at the edge of a week field. at these kids with the rest list faces, grandchildren of pioneers, descendents of the .ong rifle and the plow i find myself wondering -- of that crowd searching spirit that trails,e men along the is it still alive in them? in me? this familiar stretch of land were to suddenly become frontier again, how would we survive? it may not be long before we know. there is a tense feeling in the air. a sort of waiting, as though
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some great door is about to swing open. i remember how it all began. so quietly. a few solitary men climbing the hills, crossing the fields. geologists, searching for clues in the shape of a valley. the composition of a stone. the fossil leaf that was green at the time of the dinosaurs. and then the seismograph crew, coming in to map the underground. drill a hole, map the charge. the shockwave going down to get the layers of stone, bounced back to be recorded on sensitive instruments. by then, we'll knew what they were doing. the object of their search was
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oil. hard to imagine that somewhere, 1000 miles across the continent, men were adding years of checkingc research, reports, approaching a decision that might open a new world on our doorstep. all of our available data, i would say that this is it. east here, south of tioga, 595,west of six, 150 there's a fair chance of striking oil in a number of reservoir rocks. >> i remember the day last winter, saturday morning, it was. i was working with my father. gent. tough, stubborn old been out here and dakota raising wheat from the days when there was nothing but log cabins and a railroad depot.
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friend of ours came by. a lawyer. oscar. he had a fellow with him, stranger named roman. turned out to be a man from the citadel oil company. i remember that we invited them inside for some of the good coffee and the usual talk about the weather and the wheat crop. is we reason i'm here would like to lease the mineral rights on your land. we are offering $.10 per acre on a 10 year lease. >> week is good enough for me. >> most of our operation is underground. fields are still yours, you can go right on farming. you should hit oil? >> the standard royalty is 1/8
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of every barrel. >> every four or five years another company comes around and buys a bunch of leases. that must be half of it doesn't dry holes on the prairie. are willing to take our chances. how about it? >> we will think it over. >> do that. i will be back in a week or so. every half of oil you can find in north dakota. no see -- no sooner did the first visitor take off than the next one came rolling in. another land man. from burns petroleum. i remember, within a week we had half of a dozen offers. we took our time deciding. we worked hard for what we got.
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it took the sweat of generations to turn the prairie into wheatland. but then came the 30's. i was only a kid, but i will never forget the dead look of the land. when the wheat went, everything went. debts piled up until there was nothing a man could do but it's -- slammed the door and walk away. somehow my father hung on. he had a motto -- stick and stay, it's bound to pay. and it did, finally. a few seasons of rain and the earth was rich again. the fields, golden with grain. the wheat like a flowing river. so, now when the oil companies upe, we take our time making our minds. a man with a couple of full silos and 50 head of cattle can afford to take his time. finally, we signed with citadel. that was last year.
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since then, not a word out of them. maybe they find out -- found out there was no oil. maybe pa was right. place, theyunsen's started drilling. >> is that right? >> a bunch of who dowels. >> i want to go see. >> all right, let's go take a look. >> out in the north 40 they were putting up a giant derek that they call it big. -- a rig.
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the geologists showed us around. it was like a little town was taking shape. welders working in the stinging cold. bullet -- putting up the drilling platform. digging the mud pit. stacking pipe. stringing power lines. working with numbed feet and icy fingers, getting things ready to sink into the frozen earth. >> we can get out of the wind in here. find any oil down there? >> we are not sure of anything. in this business, it's always maybe. the only way to find out is to drill. only about one in nine of those wildcats ever come in. >> how much does it cost? >> it depends. the first hole, drilling in this
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weather, as deep as we will have to go, probably cost about half of a million. that's the oil business. it's a real gamble. ae out of nine, with half of million riding on it. >> pretty tough odds. >> plenty of men willing to take it. especially when there is a chance to make a profit. >> indian arrowhead? >> yeah, found it right over there, where we put the rig. it's for luck. we are going to need it. >> in the evenings after that, i watched barbara. i could see that she had visions of an oil well out in the middle of our wheat field. new paper in the parlor. a college fund for the kids we hope to have some day.
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?nd pa ,e keeps saying they're crazy but he's dreaming, too. 10 more head of cattle. a newborn. the old one is about shot. -- new barn. the old one is about shot. and me? i'm not sure. what sort of changes will it bring? everywhere in town you hear people talking about oil. the farmers around the county, the closest most of them have ever come is putting a couple of courts into a tractor. suddenly, they become experts, s andng about jackknife rig rotary drills. plenty will still say that they stick with wheat. that it will be as long as the house.
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>> what did he say? likely will be what -- lucky to get a wheelbarrow. >> afternoons, before i start my chores, i find myself going out to the rig, watching the crew. rocket bunch of boys. roughnecks from oklahoma, arkansas. ,atching them change the bit full of the pipe, clamp on the big tongs. the man on the cat head spins it in reverse. locking the hoist up to the derek mahon, 85 feet overhead -- derrick man, 85 feet overhead. the block shoots down again for the next joint. split-second timing. slam on the brakes. clamp on the tongs.
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yank out the safety slips. bunkers,er, the tongue working together with the precision of an all-american backfield. a rugged, proud, independent breed, ready to pull up stakes and head to wherever the oil is to be found. california, montana, gulf of mexico, or our own backyard. ♪
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>> at night back in town, a group of us began getting together. store owners, doctors, lawyers. >> maybe it is just another false alarm. is i am saying is that it important that we plan a little, just in case. >> for what? >> office space. we are likely to have 50,000 companies overnight. >> we are crowded at the hospital as it is. >> i can tell you that if they strike oil, it will be the biggest thing that hit the state. it will be the frontier all over again. no food -- new folks. >> what is this oil? what happens when they find it? scramble, boom and bust? what happens? i don't know, i'm just asking. i want to know. >> mr. mayor, i moved that we set up -- >> we founded the a citizens
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petroleum committee to work with the company's and get the facts. to find out what facilities we had. companies and get the facts. to find out what facilities we had. citadel was learning the hard way about the north dakota winter. the deadly cold, 30 below. the wind like a piston in your face. most of the crew was from the south and to them the cold was beyond belief. the supply trucks were having trouble getting through. fighting the nerve-racking battle to keep it on the highways. it got so when a man left home for the rig, they would radio on ahead to make sure that he wasn't marooned somewhere.
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a dozen times the cars were stranded and they had to send out searching for him. the company was taking every precaution it could. but it was a brutal, strugglingg job, against the ice 24 hours on the front. ♪ sometimes the bitter weather got to be more than a man was willing to take. >> where are you going? t-rex to get my for hat. >> where is it at? >> in oklahoma. fur> to get my for hat -- hat. >> where is it at? >> in oklahoma. >> yet somehow, the drilling went on.
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>> funny, to think of those indians living here for centuries. those first homesteaders with a fortune right under their feet. >> have it they have known? and if they had known, what could they have done about it? >> you are right. takes tools, skill, and freedom to explore and invent. discover. the gold rush. all of those people racing for the hills. some of them passing right over rich,sure 1000 times more maybe. >> maybe. >> seems as though everywhere you go, people are passing along reports on the latest debt. i hear she's down to 5000 feet. >> they tell me she had 6200 this morning. >> down to 8255.
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and then the day came that they got down past 11,000 and the drilling stopped. the end of the line. the word spread that if there was any oil, this would be the last death where they could hit it. for miles around people came to watch, just a thin pipe sticking out of the ground over an empty pit. and everyone waiting. this was the payoff. or was it? a few moments and they will be throwing open the valve. we stand there, eyes glued to the pipe. it just keeps spilling a thin stream of muddy water. or will it gush forth the white foam that means oil? waiting period waiting period each of us with his hopes, his
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secret dreams. to drink.t boiled [laughter] word and fromthe there it went to the central office, in oklahoma. day and night, our little
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telephone board was lit up like a christmas tree. calls from new york, california, houston. bit by bit you began to realize how big of a thing this was. a river of cars began pouring in from every corner of the country. the streets and hotels, jammed with a stream of newcomers, reflecting all the marvelous buried cross weave of america. every day bringing a new flood of cars. every train bringing new faces. the construction engineer coming in on a fast express from cheyenne. a flight salesman, flying up from tulsa. trucking outfits and supply companies, bringing in everything from six inch bolts to storage tanks, riveting guns to road graders. rig builders and drilling contractors rolling in, ready for work.
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100 oil companies racing to get a foot in the doorway. wells across 10,000 square miles of north dakota and montana. landmen and lawyers, waiting their turn to pour over the county records. all the planning by the citizens committee finally paid off. we were ready, with lifts for available office space, new housing was underway. there were extra books for the new kids at school. 1000 questions were in the air. the oil companies try to answer them by picking a panel of experts and sending them out across the basin to a series of town meetings. >> perhaps you are not familiar with the fact that petroleum is a source of insecticides, rust preventatives, plastics, alcohol , and a thousand other products. however, it is not possible to
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give you all the uses of crude oil at this time. perhaps some of you have some questions? to any of you folks have any questions? howf which is wondering, long is this all going to last? mindguess what is on your is the old story of boom and bust. i can assure you that we will be in the basin for a great many years looking for oil. the exploration process is only in its infancy. the old days the idea was to punch as many holes in the shortest time possible. get the oil, get a quick. but like everybody else, we live and learn. our policy is scientific conservation in the best interest of the people. we are learning how to produce the fields in the manner in which we can ensure ourselves of the greatest recovery. had any questions about boom and bust, through them -- next month i saw the answer with my own eyes.
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i became aware of the new techniques, the modern miracles of conservation the companies had devised. i began to realize that this was something that stretched far beyond these familiar fields. here they were producing power for the nation. to run its cars and to heat its houses, to run its factories and keep it strong. the ceaseless pounding of work was like a heartbeat. pouring energy out through the veins of america. and then the word came that on next monday morning, they were going to start drilling on our land. of course, we hoped our well would come in. but i couldn't help thinking, suppose that they had a dry hole . it had happened before. to our neighbors across the fields. and what about the folks back in town, that didn't own any land?
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what about them? what would oil mean to their future? again, i found the answer before my eyes. i found it on the moment -- the morning that commie larson forgot his lunch and his father stopped by to drop it off. that was the first that i had known that he had taken a job with an oil company. and then i began to realize that there were others. local people working at new jobs. in, bringingg special skills, teaching them in turn to my friends. i finally understood that oil would enrich the lives of hundreds of my neighbors, who will never own a well or see a drop of petroleum. i finally knew for sure that the coming of oil was good for all of us.
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>> the wind of spring blows west from the great lakes. the warm wind sings across montana and north dakota. coming at last to this place. but there is a new song in the air. a song of great promise. we know it will come again, but it will never be the same. for this land is more than a fleet now and life is no longer at the mercy of the seasons. place, a new frontier is born. a new breed of pioneers working to bring forth the riches of the land. the pounding tempo rising from this prairie is the heartbeat of a great nation. forever seeking a new american frontier. ♪
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> 70's planes, december 7, 1941, attacking -- japanese planes, december 7, 19 41, attacking pearl harbor. we mark the anniversary of the surprise attack. saturday, december 10, beginning at 8 a.m.. archival films, first-person accounts, and the 75th anniversary ceremonies at pearl harbor and the world war ii memorial in washington. and we will take your calls. saturday, december 10, beginning at 8 a.m. eastern, only on c-span3. >> we have a special webpage to help you follow the supreme court. and select-span.org supreme court at the top of the page.
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you will see four of the most recent oral arguments heard by the court this term to see all of the oral arguments covered by c-span. you can find recent appearances by many of the supreme court justices, or watch them in their own words. or the one-on-one interviews from the next two months. we have a list of all current justices, with links so you can see their appearances on c-span, as well as many other supreme court videos available on demand. follow the supreme court at c-span.org. next, author paul staiti talks about his book, " of arms and artists: the american revolution through painters' eyes." john trumbull, benjamin west, and gilbert stuart. th

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