Category Archives: Pine Ridge

Read a beautiful Lakota prayer here

Lakota Prayer

Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery,
teach me how to trust
my heart,
my mind,
my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.

According to the Native People, the Sacred Space
is the space between exhalation and inhalation.
To Walk in Balance is to have Heaven (spirituality)
and Earth (physicality) in Harmony.

Shared by Shawn Imitates Dog (Lakota)

Here are some great Marlon Brando clips relating to American Indian Affairs.

There’s a lot of BS Hollywood superficial activism out there but others that are deeply committed and with Indian Affairs Marlon Brando was the the real deal when it came to his commitment to the cause. My friend Russell Means spoke highly of Brando’s support and friendship through tough times.

Here are some great clips that show this. The edited version from the Dick Cavett show delves into this though the latter part of the full interview Brando was joined by some tribal leaders to talk about Indian Affairs in Prime Time. Never seen anyone else leverage their fame in such a way.

The second clip is my favorite (no video just audio) as it is just a very intelligent conversation and it is clear Brando knows his stuff. The third clip is the most famous of course. The Oscars. Wounded Knee 73 was on during time time and Russell talked of the enormous boost people felt in the siege watching this on TV within Wounded Knee. At the end of the day the media interest in the occupation is what kept it arguably from becoming much more violent from the government side. The Oscars speech contributed greatly to that attention at the time. Enjoy.



In commemoration of the first anniversary of my friend Russell Means’s passing.

It’s incredible to think that a year has gone by since Russell’s passing over last year (on the 22nd October) after a valiant battle with cancer. In this year he has been so often in my thoughts and we have visited together in my dreams. I wanted to share again what I wrote that sad day one year ago.

“If Martin Luther King had instigated a civil rights action that resulted in a 71 day siege with the US government Marshalls and agents employing armored personnel carriers, airforce jets and up to 500,000 bullets fired would it not be at the forefront of the history of US Civil Rights? American Indian Movement leader Russell Means who died aged 72 recently instigated such a civil rights action in 1973 that resulted in the Wounded Knee Occupation. Sadly contemporary American Indian history is ignored. Perhaps Russell would be a more famous figure if he died for his cause like Malcolm X and Dr. King? Russell survived numerous attempts on his life as he was not an easy man to kill. I once had him point out his bullet wounds, stab wounds and shrapnel wounds. But then again American Indian Movement activists were routinely murdered and it never made a headline. How ironic that there is not even racial equality when looking at the actions of civil rights activists.

I first met Russell thirteen years ago. I’m a film director from Scotland and was documenting the repatriation of a sacred Ghost Shirt from a Scottish museum to Wounded Knee. Due to twists of fate within three hours of hitting Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I was at his home and he asked me to film three days of political meetings. Wow. Going in he was a hero of mine, Now, today as I grieve his loss he is a very dear friend. Twice I was by his side during unsuccessful Tribal Presidential Election Campaigns. He starred in a movie, Rez Bomb I made on his reservation and also featured in a feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge that I made over 13 years. I once helped bail him out of jail, the next day he sat with me and watched my soccer team Manchester United end Arsenal’s Invincibles undefeated run. For three years I had the honor of being Fire Keeper at his families Sun Dance ceremony. I have never met such a force of nature.

Other than his activism he is known for his movie career, which started at the top in a lead role opposite Daniel Day Lewis in the epic Last of the Mohicans. In 1984 for a time he was Larry Flynt’s running mate for US President. Four years later Ron Paul defeated him to be the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Candidate. But it will be for his leadership of the American Indian Movement through it’s heyday and turbulent times in the 70?s that he will be best remembered for.

Like many of us he was complex and yet simple. From the simplicity came his strength: Seeing the injustice perpetrated against indigenous peoples, he fought for their freedom. He devoted his life to that. His knowledge was remarkable and unwaveringly tied to his world view. He had a temper. He was passionate. He was very very funny. His fight against cancer was monumental. It should have killed him long before it did if Western Medicine’s diagnosis was to be believed. But as strong as he was throughout this it was matched every step of the way by his remarkable wife Pearl. With all the lessons Russell learnt throughout his life his final lesson that was revealed as a result of the cancer I feel was the most powerful. That was the absolute love, commitment and devotion Pearl committed to him. That blew his mind.

Our relationship was based on three fundamentals; we enjoyed exercising each others brains, we could laugh together for hours and we loved each other. Not many people have the honor and joy of befriending one of the most extraordinary individuals of our age. Russell truly was that. I am eternally grateful for knowing Russell and his impact on my life has been seismic. Our last time together was a two day road-trip eight weeks before his passing. I can’t imagine this world without him.

When we weren’t together we communicated via email through Pearl. One day he rang, which he never did. It was to tease me because my Manchester United were kicked out of the Carling Cup by relative minnows. That summed Russell up to me.

The morning of his death he appeared to me in the most beautiful of dreams and as I awoke I knew he was gone but that all was spectacularly well with him. That he was soaring. He told me once that he was going to come back to earth as lightening and strike the White House. Knowing Russell, I wouldn’t bet against it. They better invest in a bigger lightening rod.”

The 45 minute long interview I shot with Russell that forms a big part of our feature documentary about Pine Ridge, A Thunder-Being Nation can be view online here VOD PAGE

our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more.

The story behind making Kent Nerburn’s novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog into a movie & Indiegogo campaign

Four years ago I was screening my Pine Ridge movie Rez Bomb around the reservation and surrounding area. At one of the screenings Kent Nerburn introduced himself to me and gave me a copy of his novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog and mentioned it would make a good movie.

I’m not the biggest reader and it took me a while to read it but when I did I could see what he meant. But more than that. There was an aspect of his character (based on himself) that articulated the incredible experience it is being an outside who is privileged to be taken in and embarrassed by communities in Indian Country. Not in some phony “searching for a ceremony” way or cultural tourism but something truly open and authentic. So I related somewhat through this book to a kindred spirit.

So we opened a dialogue and two and a half years ago I boarded the project to produce and direct Kent’s adaptation. It’s been an interesting journey and things got exciting when a year or so ago we had an educational fund in Indian Country tell us they had approved funding the film as they saw the great value in the story as an educational tool.

From there we started pulling the elements together. Lead actors were sought and legal work done. Sadly due to changing circumstances the fund couldn’t go through with their commitment and we found ourselves with elements in place getting ready to shoot with no money.

One of the reasons Kent approached me is not just because of my years of experience filming in Indian Country but because I had a habit of getting things made regardless and could do the film justice even if shot with a low budget. Crucial in our setting up the film was finding the perfect Dan. I traveled around the US and Canada looking for the right person and found one that has the potential to be more than perfect. No names will be mentioned here as don’t want to jinx anything as he is very old but if we can get him on screen we have the chance of creating something extraordinary. If we wait too long he may no longer be around. Dan is such a unique character that there may be no one else perfect to play it which would render it pointless to make the movie. Without a perfect Dan it would do the novel and its fans a major disservice.

The novel itself has been out 18 years or so and has been very popular and makes an extraordinary impact on the readers. The reaction within Indian Country to it is amazing. I people coming up to me saying it’s the “best book about Indian Country ever written by a white guy”. Throughout this time Kent has had attention from Hollywood about doing a movie version of it and some have come closer than others but all have struggled to get over the final hump. The key for us here though is for it to be as authentic as possible. There are no Hollywood additions, just a true, natural and moving narrative. The movie has been a dream for him and we’re so close we can taste it but still far enough that it may all come to naught.

Films in Indian Country have a hard time getting an audience and so that’s why we’re coming to you for support through our Indiegogo campaign. Through crowd funding we can prove there is an audience out there. If we can get over the hump with this then we can keep moving. Anyway please pass on the word as that is essential.

The story has impacted so many people as a novel that it is still one of the top selling contemporary stories set in Indian Country 18 years on. The movie has a chance of being that rare breakout film set in Indian Country. The more such films that are successful the easier it is for other films to get made in Indian Country.

Hopefully it looks like Wounded Knee land sale strategy is working. Johnny Depp not required

So the owner of land at Wounded Knee has again seen another deadline pass without the sale of the land. I’ve blogged a couple of time before about how the tribe should be aggressive over this.

I am delighted when I read this from President Brewer of the Oglala Lakota Nation “Brewer said Czywczynski’s claims are nothing new. “He has been threatening to sell this land for years. This isn’t the first time.”

He added that even if Czywczynski sold Wounded Knee to an outsider, it would be unusable. “One of the problems is that our tribal lands completely surround his 34 acres. There is no way anyone could ever get to this land to do any type of development or anything else… the tribe would not allow it.”

“He wants to sell it, and it has only been valued at about $8,000,” Brewer said. “The owner has valued this land at $6 million, so I say to him, ‘Then why aren’t you paying taxes on land that is valued at $6 million?’ I and some of the descendants of Wounded Knee met with him and I told him, ‘No one will ever buy this.’”

This to me is the ideal stance. Earlier in the year when folks were getting defensive about this I emailed everyone in the Oglala administration I could suggesting the denial of business permits and threatening an eminent domain purchase rendering the land relatively valueless in the market. It is thrilling seeing these stances adopted and working. This is not just about Wounded Knee but all sacred sites. After the Bear Butte sale the concern was that other land owners with land sacred to Indian Country would look to cash in on that. Fingers crossed that this strategy continues to pay off. Ultimately I think the timing of the sale being announced shortly before the 40th Anniversary of the Wounded Knee occupation had much to do with it as he successfully stole the headlines.

I am also glad that the much talked about potential involvement of Johnny Depp has subsided as hopefully he has realized the additional implications of paying anything over the odds for this land. Such behavior of that of the seller cannot be endorsed in any manner.

Read more at Indian Country Today

I detailed more about the timing of the announcements etc in my more in depth blog here. http://rezbomb.com/blog/?p=691

Wounded Knee 1890 and 1973 are both detailed in A Thunder-Being Nation the most comprehensive look at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation made over 13 years. 10 hours of extras are on the Ultimate Edition DVD.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

Trailer

Find out more about the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty here. (Great Sioux Nation)

This is what is on wikipedia and there is obviously more to it so always good to research further. Click here and it comes up.

Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)

The treaties are touched upon in our epic Pine Ridge Indian Reservation documentary A Thunder-Being Nation made over 13 years. 10 hours of incredible extras are on the Ultimate Edition DVD.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

Trailer

In depth promo about the doc

Excerpt of the work in progress on housing.

An early promo for the project

Watch PBS’s Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge here + comments

PBS just broadcast an hour long program Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge that I’ve embedded below. It’s a very different look at Pine Ridge style wise to my feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation in that it is very much a slice of life about Pine Ridge though it feels like the original intent ended up getting caught up into a more pressing reality. Here rests part of the difficulty in shooting on Pine Ridge as when you say meet the suicide prevention people it feels impossible not to tell their stories and show their remarkable work in the face of adversity. Inevitably the lighter day in the life stuff gets sacrificed. This can in part leave some frustration with some people on Pine Ridge reflected in some of the Q&A questions at the end of the program where people ask the film-maker why they didn’t show more of the fun stuff.

I have more fun on Pine Ridge than about anywhere. I understand this issue. It’s part of why I expanded into making the TV series The Hub throughout Indian Country celebrating the fun side.

What I like about Bridge the Gap is that it’s very present with the people on Pine Ridge. The viewer gets to hang out with many of the great people there.

More clips from my work are below the clips from this show. The most comprehensive way to find out about Pine Ridge is through the 10 hours of extras on the Ultimate Edition DVD of A Thunder-Being Nation as well as the documentary itself made over 13 years.

Watch What It Means to Be a Modern-Day Oglala Lakota on PBS. See more from Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

Click here to view Rez Bomb, A Thunder-Being Nation and episode one of The Hub through Video on Demand. You can either view the trailers or pay to watch the full films/programs

CLICK FOR A THUNDER-BEING NATION VIDEO ON DEMAND

CLICK FOR REZ BOMB VIDEO ON DEMAND

CLICK FOR THE HUB EPISODE ONE VIDEO ON DEMAND

Trailer

In depth promo about the doc

Excerpt of the work in progress on housing.

An early promo for the project

Why Johnny Depp spending anything more than a few thousand bucks for Wounded Knee would be a big mistake

A simple dialogue in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK has blown up around Indian Country with Johnny Depp expressing his interest to help out someway to see a good resolution to the Wounded Knee land sale issue.

I’ve written before on the dangers of allowing the landowner to “shake down” Indian Country for a huge sum of money when the land is only worth a few thousand dollars and the tribe had adopted a more aggressive tone which is what I had been advocating. Specifically threatening an eminent domain purchase and more importantly making sure it was clear no business licences would be issued to anyone looking to exploit the land, rendering it relatively valueless in monetary terms.

The issue had more or less died down till this Depp quote. I think the landowner might be thinking Christmas might be coming early this year now this has gone public. The most important thing here is that A. The land is not exploited and B. That landowners don’t see sacred land as a potential cash cow. Look at Bear Butte for example.

I hope that cool heads prevail and that Depp gets good council. Clearly his intentions are very worth while.

I detailed more about the timing of the announcements etc in my more in depth blog here. http://rezbomb.com/blog/?p=691

Wounded Knee 1890 and 1973 are both detailed in A Thunder-Being Nation the most comprehensive look at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation made over 13 years. 10 hours of extras are on the Ultimate Edition DVD.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

Trailer

The sale of the land at Wounded Knee and why everyone took the bait

So the 1st of May deadline for the proposed land sale at Wounded Knee came and went and the supposed number of bidders interested in the land don’t seem to have jumped to do a deal. No surprise to me.

Ever since the owner of 40 acres of land on the sacred land at Wounded Knee was announced at the beginning of the year with a 3.9 million dollar price tag (offered exclusively to the tribe till May 1st) I was sure this was just an opportunity of land owner James Czywczynski to steal the headlines away from the 40th Anniversary commemorations of the Wounded Knee occupation that was just weeks away. The store, gas station and “museum” that was on his land that he had invested in were destroyed during the occupation and so he clearly would want his grievance highlighted during this anniversary.

The fact that the market value of the land in less than $10,000 makes it clear that the price tag was an obscene attempt to fleece the tribe. After the fundraising to buy Bear Butte the year before was successful he perhaps saw a way of manipulating sentiment into a similar action here.

What got me was how much credibility he was being given (even in the New York Times) and also that the response was not as aggressive as it should have been to shut this down.

As the deadline loomed I started emailing many people in the tribal administration on Pine Ridge from the President and Vice President to others in political and influential life there that they should go on the offensive with an eminent domain action to see if that could get traction but also and perhaps more decisively with a proclamation that no business licenses would be issued to anyone for that land, thus rendering the land valueless and making any purchase, pointless.

Interestingly a few days later reports start appearing in the media that both actions were being pursued. I have no idea if this is as a response to my correspondence or just coincidence but what is most important is that the tribe started enforcing its sovereignty more around the issue.

I think at the end of the day it is interesting to see how people got swept up so much in the rumor (a horse slaughterhouse being put there was one) and not just looking at the bare facts and motivations. The land under his ownership has laid there unmolested for 40 years. To think it would have millions of dollars of value in the open market when unused by him through this time would be preposterous. I am sure this will probably just slip away as a little footnote of a man trying to grab the headlines and manipulate truly sacred land.

See my most recent post regarding Johnny Depp’s interest in purchasing the land here

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more.

Chief Oliver Red Cloud’s Passing & the Passing of too many other Participants in my Documentary A Thunder-Being Nation

Oliver Red Cloud has just walked on at the grand old age of 93. He is the latest participant in my feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who has passed on since I started filming it back in 1999. Thankfully many were a good age like Russell Loud Hawk (mid 80’s), Claudia Iron Hawk (80), Johnson Holy Rock (mid 90’s) but one thing that is striking about visiting a cemetery on Pine Ridge is that you see on grave stones in the past so many people dying in old age like this but more recently many more dying in middle age with very little in between.

Of our participants the delightful Harvey White Woman only lived to 44. Others around the project made it to mid 50’s. In fact the only person in the documentary so far that has passed on of an age between mid 50’s and 80’s was my dear friend Russell Means who we very sadly lost last year at 72 after an extraordinary fight with cancer.

Nothing shows to me the decline in the quality of life on Pine Ridge in the last few decades than the fact that so many people now are struggling to survive beyond middle age. Some of the reasons for this are explored in A Thunder-Being Nation. I am very honored and proud to have been able to document so many of their stories in the documentary while they walked among us. In the 10 hours of extra features of the Ultimate Edition DVD there are full interviews of many of these people who had passed on. It’s there as a constant resource for those of you who want to find out more.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

It can also be watched on demand here

Trailer

In depth promo about the doc

Excerpt of the work in progress on housing.

An early promo for the project