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

Watch Al Jazeera’s interesting program about Johnny Depp’s Tonto & Hollywood’s Native American narrative + my comments

I just saw this a couple of days ago and thought it was worth sharing as it has a strong objective voice from some key individuals from Indian Country. It’s hard to see objectivity to the film in articles written by people who criticised it for a year before seeing it as they clearly don’t want to turn on themselves and do anything other than support their criticism. I haven’t seen it because I don’t go to the movies much so have no opinion on it.

The program also talks about getting independent movies set in Indian Country with home grown talent out there. Having made a movie, a feature documentary and a TV series in Indian Country, I understand more than most these difficulties. The sad part is that the audience within Indian Country is big enough to support small independent films but it rarely does. Even with the all star cast of our series The Hub, only a handful of dvd’s have been sold and there has only been one on demand view of it’s first Indian Market special episode since it was made available 3 weeks ago. I get great feedback from those that watch this fun, inspirational show but the lack of support within the community means we won’t be able to do any more. (click the link at the top right of the page to find our on demand films that can be viewed now anywhere in the world).

Al Jazeera has a long history of covering issues from Indian Country in more detail than any other news organization in the most objective way. They deserve a lot of credit for leading the way on this.

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.

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

Read this Interesting Comment from a Native American in Europe about perceptions there about Indian Country

I got this interesting comment to my post “Do People Really Not Want to see the Happier More Successful Side of Indian Country? – See more at: http://rezbomb.com/blog/?p=714#sthash.T5WxzXUj.dpuf”

“Red Haircrow
July 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm · Edit
Yes, and I deal with it all the time, especially here in Europe. They often want you to be stereotypical replicas of 200 years ago, so it can fulfill their fantasies and imaginings. They do not like you or outright reject you if you are dressed in modern clothing, may have a “modern” profession, and rebuke you if you do not only work in “traditional” roles as a singer, dancer, or something similar. They don’t get that we are not compartmentalized like that. I am a publisher, a psycho-therapist but I know my culture, traditions, history, dances, songs, etc. but I don’t have to or will display them on demand just because they want me to.

Many want to think of us only as “past tense” because it is easier for them. In that way, they may not feel any need to try to help or contribute to causes, or even just acknowledge the long wrongs done without the benefit their being the clause: “Those people are no more”, so they won’t feel guilty/obliged to do anything now really. Not that we ask that. Just be honest.

In Europe, such as in the article I wrote publish in Indian Country Today Media Network, there are so many European non-native hobbyists who feel they have read enough books, bought enough true regalia sold online or they learn how to make it, and they feel they are demonstrating native life because it is failing due to so many issues among real natives. That is one cause, but also some just want to copy another culture because they’ve lost or don’t feel comfortable in their own, or they just want to copy for amusement.

Those especially don’t want to see successful natives. They just want to focus on the past, and/or focus on what they want to present.”

Many thanks to him for sharing this with us.

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 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.

Available to watch online in full for the first time – Watch An Interview with Russell Means – 45 mins

In 1999 I’d been on Pine Ridge less than 3 hours when I found myself through twists of fate at Russell Means’s house as 3 days of political meetings were commencing. Russell asked me to record the event and also agreed to do an interview with me the next morning. For the first time this interview is available online in full (other than editing out some of the questions)

The 45 mins interview was up till now only available on the Special Edition DVD of our movie Rez Bomb that starred Russell and was shot on Pine Ridge. Excerpts from the interview are in our feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation, the most comprehensive look at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (10 hours of extras on the Ultimate Edition DVD)

Click on this link to view it. Little excerpts are below. http://vimeo.com/ondemand/3234/69790042

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

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

Johnny Depp and the Dialogue within Indian Country

It seems to me that Johnny Depp’s name is being invoked regularly by various people in relations to Indian Country and I am curious to see how much traffic it draws as opposed to dialogues about the many pressing major issues in Indian Country as well as dialogues about the amazing things going on in Indian Country by it’s best and brightest. I guess I’ll see in a few days about how the traffic to this post compares with my others. I’ll keep you posted but also a lot of those commentators obsessing about Depp for months in some respect are continuing to validate that sad old state of affairs which is what those outside Indian Country are doing in relation to Indian Country is what gets the attention.

If these commentators were spending the same time highlighting the work of Ryan Red Corn, the 1491’s, Steven Paul Judd, Virgil Ortiz etc etc etc, they’d be helping them all take their profiles to new levels as well as sharing their inspirational work with a community that needs these role models to inspire youth.

My feeling is that Depp is as worthy of conversation as anything else but it’s become so disproportionate in the dialogues from some that it takes away from their credibility in terms of focusing on the more serious issues of the day.

The lack of support for the positive within Indian Country is highlighted in my previous blog http://rezbomb.com/blog/?p=714

our DVD’s highlighting many aspects of Indian Country 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.

Do People Really Not Want to see the Happier More Successful Side of Indian Country?

Indian Country is many many things, many people’s, nations, environments. Some very rich and some very poor. I have been fortunate to spend time with many people from many Nations within Indian Country. The diversity is immense but the one thing that is most consistent and that is the humor.

Yet it is interesting to me that with the work that I have out there, the most positive DVD release, The Hub, with 13 episodes where 3 presenters from Indian Country visit with the best in the arts and entertainment scene from those many nations, has been by far my least successful release to date. It is a fun, fun show and gets a great reception from those I’ve spoken to who have watched it. For years I’d had people practically screaming to see something made celebrating Indian Countries many successes not just showing the hardships in many areas. And yet The Hub has sold a miniscule amount on DVD in the 3 months it has been out.

Compared to my movie Rez Bomb which is a dark love story/Thriller and my in depth documentary A Thunder-Being Nation made over 13 years about Pine Ridge about it’s past and present, The Hub is incredibly upbeat, vibrant and inspirational. I am just mystified that people aren’t clamouring for it. Especially as we have an all star group of people in the episodes.

Maybe the sad truth is that people are gravitating more to the harsher reality rather than celebrating those that are most actively going out and trying to create a paradigm shift for Indian Country. These individuals need support and encouragement as they are pathfinders. Also this show can inspire youth in Indian Country to see great new possibilities through being inspired by our guests.

In 3 months I’ve sold less DVD’s online than there are guests in the show. There is no point complaining about lack of positive shows being made if you don’t support them when they are made. With more audience support we could make season after season but as it stands the show will end with season one which would be sad as it would just get better and better.

Help get the word out please so a wider audience can get beyond the stereotypes and see the real diversity and talent from Indian Country.

More info on the series is available through the link at the top of the 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.

White Clay, A Time for Tough, Level Headed Decisions for the People of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Firstly, we would all like to see alcoholism end on Pine Ridge as everywhere else. Though that reality is not likely. It’s destruction on Pine Ridge is seismic in so many dark ways it is hard to bear. An alcoholic may recover but a child abused by one may not ever.

We are all sitting in a very real world and need to acknowledge a pragmatic solution to improve the reality. I’d like to see White Clay disappear as it is but let us also be real that alcohol will still be bought by people on Pine Ridge. This has happened before when there have been roadblocks shutting off access to White Clay for sobriety checks. But if White Clay was shut down tomorrow and Pine Ridge remains dry then I want people to answer how they will deal with an increase in road deaths and incarcerations as that is exactly what will happen as people drive the 24 miles to Rushville or other border towns rather than walk the 2 miles to White Clay. The Sheridan County cops are the ones you are watching in these video clips aggressively arresting President Brewer and others. They are the ones that will be busting the Oglala on the roads. Even if sober, many don’t have tags on their car, insurance etc..

To me the only viable way of closing White Clay and its exploitation is to legalize alcohol sales on the Rez. It can be limited to weaker beers and could only be bought in tribally administered stores so as to ensure a sizable amount of revenue stays on Pine Ridge rather than run straight off. Alcoholism is a big problem but so also is the lack of economy as the money goes outside. Treatment centers being funded by it would certainly be a bonus.

The time I’ve spent on Rosebud didn’t make me feel like it was in a worse position by being a “wet” reservation, though that is not for me to say. Countries like Portugal who changed their drug laws drastically by decriminalizing possession had a great increase in people moving into treatment and lowering health problems because by having a more open culture they could deal with things better. Assuming alcoholism is a disease as those in the know tend to state it is then those that are alcoholics will be so regardless of whether the rez is wet or dry until they tackle it personally. I can imagine it would be easier to tackle it with family around if they are not forced to waste away their days in White Clay or hold up in homes out of sight with their other alcoholic buddies. The isolation can only worsen the despair.

I have spoken with many prominent leaders and business people from Pine Ridge and many privately talk about the advantages of it being a wet reservation but many won’t talk openly about it. Lets also be honest that many are also playing politics as may we know are also susceptible to taking a drink.

A sovereign nation should take full responsibility for it’s actions and people. I don’t see how things can get much worse than the current situation with White Clay, other than if people are forced to go further afield and there is more carnage on the roads. Anyone who thinks closing White Clay will stop drinking is living in a fantasy land. The bootleggers also already exist. Though the other White Clay exploitation I’d love to see people talk about is the Pawn Shop that is also seeing a lot of money sucked out of the reservation for nothing.

One pattern that has been proven in life over and over is when you start treating people with more respect as adults they tend to start acting that way and take more personal responsibility. I have great friends from Pine Ridge soaring ahead in the world. They are the definition of people who have taken total personal responsibility and have soared because of it. For me it’s time to move forward. Time to bankrupt White Clay through lack of custom rather than push the customers further afield.

White Clay creates more divisions within Pine Ridge. There are already too many divided within this wonderful community. I want nothing more than to see the quality of life for people there to soar. There are so many amazing things about Pine Ridge. A shame we’re not spending more time talking about that, celebrating that. Lifting the resonance of the whole community up rather than constantly seeing White Clay and all it’s negativity suck people down.