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“Promised Land” – November’s Meaningful Movie

Meaningful Movies this month is “Promised Land,” an award-winning social justice documentary that follows two tribes in the Pacific Northwest: the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they’ve long been denied. In following their story, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.”

The film will be shown at the Old Liberty Theater, 113 N. Main Avenue on Wednesday, November 28. The film starts at 7 pm, previews at 6:45pm, with a discussion to follow the film featuring Sam Robinson, Vice Chairman of the Chinook Tribe and Sarah and Vasant Salcedo, filmmakers. There is not cost to attend, but donations are gladly accepted.

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Here is a wonderful collection of Native films and music that are free to stream through the library of congress.

PBS is streaming several documentaries this month featuring Native topics and tribes from across the country.

A few film recommendations:

This May Be the Last Time (viewable through Amazon, YouTube, Itunes, Google Play): Tracing a heartfelt journey, award-winning filmmaker Sterlin Harjo interweaves the tale of a mysterious death in 1962 with the rich history of the powerful hymns that have united Native American communities in times of worship, joy, tragedy, and hope.

Reel Injun (Netflix DVD, YouTube, Kanopy): Since the dawn of cinema, Hollywood has made over 4,000 films about Native people — over 100 years of movies that shape the way we see Indians … and the way Indians see themselves. Romanticized and demonized, what does it mean to have your identity defined by the movies. Cree Indian filmmaker, Neil Diamond, sets off on a cross-country journey to explore his Hollywood roots.

Medicine Woman (streamable for free in the link): What does it take to heal a people? That’s the question at the heart of Medicine Woman, a new one-hour PBS documentary interweaving the lives of Native healers of today with that of the first Native American doctor. Born on the Nebraska frontier in 1865, Susan La Flesche Picotte studied medicine at a time when few women dared.

Ishi’s Return (Kanopy): A half-hour film about Ishi, billed in 1911 as the “last wild Indian,” when he wandered out of the woods in Oroville, California, and became a national sensation. When Ishi died, his brain was removed and sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Eighty years later, his descendants in California fought to have his remains repatriated to his ancestral home.

Red Power Energy (Amazon): Tribal lands are the microcosm of today’s controversial energy debate. Between the fears that fossil fuels cause climate change and the hope that renewable energy can save the planet, lies the complex reality of American Indian reservations grappling with the balance of culture verse progress, poverty verse new-found wealth, and the fate of the environment.

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 (Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Itunes): A documentary film about Comanche activist LaDonna Harris, who led an extensive life of Native political and social activism, and is now passing on her traditional cultural and leadership values to a new generation of emerging Indigenous leaders.

The Mayors of Shiprock (streaming for free in the link): Meet THE MAYORS OF SHIPROCK – that’s what some people call The Northern Diné Youth Committee. These young Navajo leaders meet every week to learn about their Native culture, discuss community improvements, and work to bridge divides within their community. Some on the reservation say they don’t have the traditional knowledge and language needed to be real leaders…but the Mayors are not stopping.

Vision Maker Media is a great resource for more information about Native films.

In this Thanksgiving week, many of us grapple with how to talk to kids about Thanksgiving and the complexity of our country’s history. Teaching Tolerance offers some great resources. I especially like American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving which states “American Indians are still here, living modern lives. Even as contemporary people, many American Indians still retain strong connections to their specific traditions.” This idea was sorely lacking from my educational experience as a kid in Michigan where learning about the local tribes felt like an archaeology project rather than learning about the people who were around us in the community.

I’ll leave you with this short from the Kiowa-Choctaw artist Steven Paul Judd:

~ contributed by Megan Dudley

See you on the 28th

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