NATIVE AMERICAN RELATIONS SERIES
Featuring Documentaries by Kifaru Productions
Information adapted from Kifaru Productions website.
Kifaru Productions is a Malibu, California based independent video production company. In 1990, they set out to make a series of documentaries dealing with contemporary indigenous issues. Kifaru realized that most movies and television programs about Native Americans focus on history, neglecting the modern day existence of Indian people, leaving the impression that Indians had died in the last century. The impression is not only false, but harmful. With people thinking romantically of the “noble savages” of yesteryear, the dominant culture tends to deny responsibility for protecting the religious freedoms, land claims, health care, and other rights of contemporary aboriginal nations. With this in mind, they initiated the production of “The Native American Relations Video Series.”
Dream Catchers Incorporated
The officers of Kifaru Productions founded Dream Catchers Incorporated, a non-profit, charitable organization, to promote cross-cultural communications emphasizing social and environmental respect. The work of Dream Catchers is rooted in the belief that within the spiritual traditions of the ancient cultures of the Americas, lie values not only viable in today’s world, but absolutely vital to the regeneration of Earth’s life cycle. In cooperation with other culturally-based organizations, Dream Catchers fosters the creation of documentaries, feature films, educational events, and school curriculum which all promote the values of respect for Nature and respect for the people.
Tentative Schedule of Screenings (See attached pages for descriptions of documentaries)
Thursday, October 21 Presentation: Gary Rhine, CEO, Kifaru Productions
6:00 p.m. – ARTS 240 Documentary: “A Seat at the Table: Struggling for
American Indian Religious Freedom”
Thursday, October 28 Documentary: “Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations”
6:00 p.m. – ARTS 240 57 minutes
Thursday, November 4 Documentary: “Peyote Road”
7:30 p.m. – CFHUSU 113 59 minutes
Thursday, November 11 Documentary: “Your Humble Serpent”
7:30 p.m. – CFHUSU 113 60 minutes
Thursday, November 4 Documentary: “Red Road to Sobriety”
7:30 p.m. – CFHUSU 113 90 minutes “A SEAT AT THE TABLE:
STRUGGLING FOR AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM”
In December of 1999, 7000 spiritual leaders and scholars from around the world converged on Cape Town, South Africa, to participate in the 3rd Parliament of The Worlds Religions. Within the Parliament, a ten-hour special symposium entitled, “AMERICA’S SHADOW STRUGGLE,” addressed issues of Native religious freedom such as sacred sites protection, effects of the destruction of Native languages, the rights of Native prisoners and more. Legendary Professor of religious studies, Huston Smith (The World's Religions) attended, hosting one-on-one conversations with eight American Indian leaders:
Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee); Native American Rights Fund
* Overview of the American Indian struggle for religious freedom
Winona LaDuke (Anishinabe); White Earth Land Recovery Project
* Native religions & the Earth; pollution & clear cutting as religious persecution
Frank Dayish, Jr. (Dine); Native American Church of North America
* Struggle for The N.A.C.'s religious use of Peyote
Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota); Advocate for protection of the Black Hills
* Protection of & Native access to sacred sites
Doug George-Kanentiio (Mohawk); Journalist / Activist
* Destruction of Native languages & resulting damage to Native ceremonies
Lenny Foster (Dine); Navajo Nation Corrections Project
* Injustices faced by incarcerated Native Americans
Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga); American Indian Law Alliance
* Spiritual threat to Indigenous peoples by the Human Genome Diversity Project
Guy Lopez (Lakota); Association on American Indian Affairs
* Disrespect of Apache beliefs by University of Arizona & Jesuit Astrophysicists
While in Capetown, the American Indian delegation met formally with South African tribal leaders and with government officials working in behalf of the tribes to reclaim land taken during the Apartheid regime. A video production crew from KIFARU PRODUCTIONS documented the symposium and associated meetings. Their intention was to bring the issues of religious freedom for American Indian people to the forefront of this worldwide gathering of religious leaders and scholars and offer Parliament participants an opportunity to engage and assist in efforts to correct the injustices. This documentary includes messages by His Holiness The Dali Lama, South African President Nelson Mandela and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anon. The ceremonial opening of the week long Parliament flamboyantly displays the rich variety of religious traditions from around the world including the performance of an Iroquois ancestral song by Grammy nominated singer Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida), who also serves as narrator for the documentary.
Historical Background for “A SEAT AT THE TABLE”
The traditional religious practices of Indigenous peoples throughout the world have, over many centuries, suffered grave persecution. This is as true in America as anywhere else in the world. It's ironic that early settlers in North America were in search of religious freedom, yet they didn't apply the same values to the Indigenous populations. Having suffered persecution and religious intolerance by the dominant religions of Europe, they in turn applied the same intolerance on the Indians, viewing them through ethnocentric eyes and failing to realize that the tribes had ancient yet vital religious beliefs and practices that they were observing. In a little known yet not insignificant document, the "Papal Bull of 1493", the Pope declared Indigenous people of the New World without souls, not savable, in essence, that they were sub-human.
During the first century of U.S. history, this deep seated disrespect manifested in many forms of religious intolerance and persecution. From federal statutes conveying Indian land to missionary groups for "church work" amongst the Indians, to missionary groups being deemed Indian agents in charge of entire tribes to assist the government representatives in separating Indians from their way of life. In the 1890's after the tribes were placed on reservations, these policies took a darker turn, when the government acted to completely stamp out Indian religions, even by military force. The most notable example was the U.S. Cavalry arresting Ghost Dancers on reservations across the country and in 1890, slaughtering hundreds of Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee, SD. Ultimately, in 1894, a complete ban on tribal religions was issued resulting in denial of rations and/or incarceration for engaging in tribal religious ceremonies.
The United States Government policy outlawing all Indian religious practices was a tragic contradiction of another official government policy, known as the Trust Doctrine in which the United States declared its responsibility to preserve and protect Indian culture and sovereignty. The failure of the U.S. Government to honor The Trust Doctrine when it came to preserving and protecting Indian religions, forced many Indian people to accept Christianity while others chose to take their ceremonies underground. While the ban on religious practices was lifted in the latter half of the twentieth century, many of its effects continue today including a general societal disrespect of Indian religions. A few contemporary examples follow:
As Mecca is sacred to Muslims and Jerusalem is sacred to Jews and Christians, so too are many locations in North America to Indian people. Most tribes revere these sacred places as necessary for their ceremonies to successfully regenerate the life cycles vital to the survival of their people and all humanity. Most of these sites lack protection from resource development such as mining, logging and from recreational development like ski resorts, boating and climbing. Consequently, many have been destroyed and others face similar threats. Where Native sacred sites lie within the boundaries of state and federal lands, Indian people are often forced to apply and pay for permits to access their sacred places for prayer and in many cases are refused access.
An essential dilemma for many contemporary Indian people is whether they can actually call themselves spiritual without access to their traditional language. At first contact with Europeans there were upwards of 600 Indigenous languages spoken in North America. Today, there are only about 150 and most of them are spoken solely by the elders of the communities. This situation has been caused largely by what was probably the most odious and reprehensible act that the U.S. Government engaged in; the displacement of Indian children from the nurturing and loving atmosphere of their communities into institutions overseen by people who were, if nothing else, rigid and brutal. From the reservation days of the 1800's through the 1970's, thousands of Native children were placed in boarding schools and beaten for the slightest use of their languages. Of those who managed to leave those institutions remembering their languages, having been through this abusive experience, many decided that to protect their offspring from similar cultural persecution, they would not pass on their language. Native people are taught that their languages are essential for communication with the spirit world and therefore to the physical well-being of their people. For instance, they rely on plants and herbs in order to effect good health for their people. They believe when they approach a plant, in order to release it's healing powers, it must be done using a Native language. The plant responds to that language and releases its healing power. So too, during the traditional ceremonies, when asking spiritual beings to join in, it must be done with the Native language. So if the spiritual beings enter into the ceremony trying to dance with the people, trying to speak to them through dreams, trying to eat with them, and they can't communicate, then the power of that ritual is negated. While this is a difficult issue for non-Indian people to understand, for traditional Indian people, it is real and significant.
Perhaps the most serious crisis for Indian people today is that Native Americans are incarcerated at a higher rate than any other ethnic group. This is in large part due to a lack of awareness of their traditional religious beliefs and because of alcohol and drug related offenses which represent over 95% of cases. For the last 30 years there has been a recovery and healing movement growing within Indian communities which is resulting in a regeneration of pride and dignity. Realizing that a return to traditional spiritual beliefs is the best hope for most incarcerated Indians, medicine people and Native spiritual advisors have sought to bring this movement inside prison walls. They have found prison can be a place of great learning where their people can relearn their songs, prayers and ceremonies. Unfortunately, these Indian "chaplains" have been confronted by wardens, chaplains of other faiths and officers of the Federal Bureau of Prison Systems who are often reluctant to approve of practices such as Sweat Lodge Ceremonies and Pipe Ceremonies. They use security concerns as an excuse for why these practices cannot be held in prisons. This double standard, where Indian spiritual beliefs are discounted and undermined, is keeping Indian prisoners from experiencing the best chance for true rehabilitation. The religious freedom issues described above are just a few of the problems confronting Indian people that are addressed by the documentary, A SEAT AT THE TABLE.
More Information on “A SEAT AT THE TABLE” Dialog Participants
BIO FOR HOST, HUSTON SMITH
Professor of the History of the World's Religions
Professor Huston Smith is widely regarded as the most eloquent and accessible contemporary authority on the history of religions. A leading figure in the comparative philosophy of religion, he has taught at Washington University, MIT, and Syracuse University. He currently teaches at the University of California at Berkeley. His classic study, The World's Religions has sold over two and a half million copies. His recent book, Why Religion Matters was a New York Times best seller. His other works include Forgotten Truth, Beyond the Post-Modern Mind, Primordial Truth and Postmodern Theology, One Nation Under God: The Triumph of the Native American Church (with Reuben Snake), Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals, and his most recent book, with Phil Cousineau, The Way Things Are. Dr. Smith is also an accomplished filmmaker. His three-part series on world religion in the 1950s is widely regarded as a classic.
FEATURED AMERICAN INDIAN LEADERS
Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee);
Senior Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund (NARF)
A history & overview of the American Indian struggle for religious freedom
Walter Echo-Hawk is a courtroom attorney, political activist, lobbyist, tribal Judge and scholar. He has worked on cases involving Native American religious freedom, prisoner rights, water rights, treaty rights, and reburial and repatriation rights. He was a leader in the Indian civil rights campaign to obtain passage of the "Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act". In 1992-94, Walter led national NARF efforts to secure federal legislation to protect Native American religious freedom. Mr. Echo-Hawk is a member of the Carter Center's International Human Rights Council. He has been profiled in Notable Native Americans (1995) and other publications, such as People Magazine. A prolific writer, his publications include an award winning book Battlefields and Burial Grounds (1994). He has received various awards including the American Bar Association "Spirit of Excellence Award" for legal work in the face of adversity (1996).
Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg);
Founding Director, White Earth Land Recovery Project
Native religions & the Earth; pollution & clear cutting as religious persecution
Winona LaDuke is an Internationally acclaimed activist. She is Founding Director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and the Indigenous Women's Network. She is also Program Director for The Honor The Earth Fund. She is the author of 2 books; "Last Standing Woman" and "All Our Relations". In 1994 she was named by Time Magazine one of America's 50 most promising leaders under 40. In the 1996 and 2000 Presidential campaigns, she served as Ralph Nader's running mate for the Green Party. In 1997, along with The Indigo Girls, she was named a Ms. Woman Of The Year. In 1988, she received the Reebok Human Rights Award.
Frank Dayish , Jr. (Dine);
President, Native American Church of North America
The struggle & triumph of The N.A.C.'s religious use of Peyote
Frank Dayish, Jr, is of the Bit' ahnii clan, born for the Hask' aahadzohni clan. His maternal Grandfather is of the Tachii'nii clan and paternal grandfather is Naakaii Dine'e. He is a life long member of the Native American Church of North America and has served two terms as its President. Mr. Dayish is currently the Vice President of the Navajo Tribe and serves as Co-Chairman of the Sovereignty Protection Initiative. He has seventeen years of commercial procurement experience in the aerospace and mining (surface and underground) industries. His experience gives him a complete understanding of streamlining federal contracting to meet private industry business objectives while maintaining procurement integrity. He is experienced in lobbying Federal, State and Tribal governments. His hobbies include breeding and training show Appaloosa horses. Dayish is a member of the International Colored Horse Club and operated a family farm.
Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota);
Primary Advocate for protection of the Black Hills
Protection of The Black Hills & Native access to sacred sites
Charlotte Black Elk is Oglala Lakota. She is a primary advocate for the protection of the Black Hills, and lives with her family on The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Doug George-Kanentiio (Akwesasne Mohawk);
Journalist / Activist
Destruction of Native languages & resulting damage to Native ceremonies
Chairman of Round Dance Productions, Inc., a non-profit cultural foundation formed specifically for the preservation and development of indigenous North American language, history, music and art.
As a former Mohawk Nation delegate to the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burial Rules and Regulations, Kanentiio was involved in coordinating the return of Iroquois sacred objects from museums across the United States. From 1993-2000 his articles were published weekly basis in the Syracuse Herald American. His columns have also appeared the L.A. Times, The Washington Post, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, The London Free Press, Schenectady Gazette and the Albany Times Union. He is a correspondent for News From Indian Country and Akwesasne Notes. He is the author of the books "Skywoman" and "Iroquois Culture and Commentary" as well as a contributor to "Treaty of Canandaigua". During the 1994 UNITY conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Kanentiio was presented with the "Wassaja Award" for contributions to journalism , the highest honor bestowed by the Native American Journalists Association.
Lenny Foster (Dine)
Director/Spiritual Advisor, Navajo Nation Corrections Project
Injustices faced by incarcerated Native Americans
Lenny Foster is the Director of the Corrections Project of the Navajo Nation Department of Behavioral Health Services. He is a spiritual advisor for approximately 2000 Native American inmates in 96 state prisons and federal penitentiaries across the US. Mr. Foster has authored state legislation in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah permitting American Indian religious practices for prisoners. He has testified as an expert witness before U.S. District Court hearings; on the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, before the UN Human Rights Commission on Racism in Geneva, Switzerland and before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is a board member of the International Indian Treaty Council; is the National Coordinator for the National Native American Prisoners Rights Advocates Coalition; and a member of the American Friends Service Committee Native American Task Force. He participated in many American Indian Movement campaigns from 1969 to 1981 including the Occupation of Alcatraz; The Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan; Wounded Knee; The Longest Walk ; and Big Mountain. He has traveled extensively to Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Holland, South Africa, Switzerland, Guatemala, Chile, England, and New Zealand as Indian Rights activist. He has also received many awards and accolades for his work.
Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga);
President, American Indian Law Alliance
Spiritual threat to Indigenous peoples by the Human Genome Diversity Project
Tonya Frichner is a lawyer and activist, devoted to the pursuit of human rights for Indigenous peoples. In 1987, she served as a delegate for and was legal counsel to the Haudenosaunee at the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights/Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then Ms. Frichner has been an active participant in international forums affecting Indigenous peoples including the establishment of the Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues, the negotiation processes concerning the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the proposed OAS Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She was awarded the Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Achievement Award and the Female Role Model of the Year (one of 10) of the Ms. Foundation for Women, among others.
Guy Lopez (Crow Creek Sioux);
Sacred Lands Specialist, Association on American Indian Affairs
Disrespect of Apache beliefs by University of Arizona & Jesuit Astrophysicists
Guy Lopez is Coordinator of the Sacred Lands Protection Program for the Association on American Indian Affairs. He also serves as a national coordinator of the Sacred Places Protection Coalition. From 1988 until '94, Mr. Lopez was International Campaign Organizer for the Student Environmental Action Coalition and the ASEED Indigenous Hub. He organized youth participation in the UN Earth Summit and has coordinated events for the Mt. Graham and Apache Survival Coalitions. From 1999 until 2001, he was Policy Analyst for the Center for Biological Diversity, responsible for their program focusing on the Endangered Species Act and Indigenous Peoples.
Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida)
Grammy Award Nominated Singer, Composer and Voice Over Artist
Narrates the documentary and sings to the Opening Session of the Parliament
Joanne Shenandoah; Wolf Clan member of the Oneida Nation, Iroquois Confederacy, was the "2002 - Native Artist of the Year". She has won a Native American Music Award 9 times and is a Grammy nominee. Ms. Shenandoah is one of America's most prolific aboriginal artists. With 12 albums to her credit, Shenandoah's music is heard on Bose sounds systems as well as on PBS, HBO, CBS, and Discovery Channel documentaries and television shows. www.joanneshenandoah.com. The Associated Press said of her, "Joanne Shenandoah has become the most critically acclaimed Native American Singer of her time."
"Gary Rhine has made another fine film in defense of the religious traditions of Native Americans. Setting this one in the context of a religious convention in South Africa makes the case of our own native people particularly egregious and particularly poignant. They are recognized the world over as keepers of a vital piece of the Creator's original orders, and yet regarded as little more than squatters at home. Gary's film features fine footage, impressive interviews, and once again, gives a voice to the voiceless".
"A Seat At The Table is a valuable and insightful film about a too long overlooked topic, the right of Native American people to have their sacred sites and practices honored and protected. Let's hope it gets shown far and wide, enough to bring about a real shift in policy and consciousness".
"A welcome overture by Native religious practitioners to demonstrate to the other religions the nature of the longstanding traditions whereby our people achieved a powerful relationship with the mysterious power that creates, sustains and guides our lives. Religions represent insights and experiences rather than masses of followers and while many religious traditions encourage the development of the individual, the native religions, perhaps more than any others, stimulate the highest level of maturity and achievement; that of community responsibility. For that reason we deserve more than a seat at the table but perhaps the speaker's podium as well."
Vine Deloria, Jr.
"Informative ...overview of the diverse religious-freedom issues effecting Native Americans. ...Worthy material for educational outlets -- particularly classrooms, given that its eight distinct sections can easily be shown one or a few at a time. ...Issues highlighted here include clear-cutting forests, pollution, land development and governmentally limited access to sacred sites. ...vanishing native languages, difficulty prison inmates have in observing their religion, and the criminalization of ritual peyote use. ...Irony is not lost that First Nation peoples are experiencing such disputes in a country expressly founded to protect religious freedom."
"The Indian Wars are still being fought. The same institutions that perpetrated the genocide historically continue to support or condone them. The methods may have changed but strategy remains the same: the conquest of the Indian Nations, the usurpation of their land and the eradication of any witness to or evidence of the holocaust. "A SEAT AT THE TABLE" is a testament to the resilience and fortitude of native peoples in their struggle to preserve their culture and traditions against the onslaught of an overweening materialism that threatens all life on the planet."
“WIPING THE TEARS OF SEVEN GENERATIONS”
This award-winning documentary of the Bigfoot Memorial Ride celebrates the resurgence of Lakota Sioux Culture and Spirituality.
In December of 1990, 300 Lakota Sioux horseback riders rode 250 miles in two weeks, through bitter sub-zero winter weather, to commemorate the lives lost at the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. This program relates the story of how the Lakota Nation mourned the loss of their loved ones for 100 years. They also mourned the loss of some of their people’s sacred knowledge which died with the elders that day. Then, inspired by dreams and visions of unity and spiritual awakening, a group of Lakota decided to bring their people out of mourning through a traditional Lakota ceremony which they call Washigila: “Wiping the Tears.” The Bigfoot Memorial Ride was that ceremony.
“For the first time in film, the true story of The Wounded Knee Massacre …First of its genre to record – not rewrite – history from the Lakota perspective”
“Stirring record of a spiritual ceremony to end a century of mourning … plain statement of facts without being overtly accusatory, wielding the impact to strike a rich vein of informed guilt and inform the uninformed”
“Moving and informative … Effective consciousness raiser”
“Sensitive. Moving. A model of the way art can be used to effect reconciliation and renewal.”
Huston Smith, Professor & Author of “World Religions”
“More than film – it is history as it unfolds … shows an inherent strength in tribal people not even they suspected … Generations from now people will marvel at the Bigfoot Ride and see that it was a critical pivot in the story of American Indians. Thank God we have it on film.”
Vine Deloria, Jr., Professor
1991 American Indian Film Festival “Best Video” Award
1992 National Educational Film Fest “Golden Apple” Award
1992 American Film & Video Festival “Red Ribbon” Award
1992 Munich International Film Festival “One Future” Prize
1992 Parnu Anthropology Festival “Best Educational Film”
1992 C.I.N.E. “Golden Eagle” Award
1993 New York Festivals “Silver Medal” Award
“THE PEYOTE ROAD:
ANCIENT RELIGION IN CONTEMPORARY CRISIS”THE PEYOTE ROAD addresses the United States Supreme Court “Smith” decision, which denied protection of 1st Amendment religious liberty to the sacramental use of Peyote for indigenous people, one of the oldest tribal religions in the Western Hemisphere. Examining the European tradition of religious intolerance and documenting the centuries old sacramental use of cactus Peyote. THE PEYOTE ROAD explains how the “Smith” decision put religious freedom in jeopardy for all Americans. This program contributed to the successful efforts of The American Indian Religious Freedom Coalition, resulting in passage of the historic 1994 amendment to The American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
“A complete and fair examination of the controversial use of this plant … with production values of the highest order … ambitious in scope, eloquent in its presentation … suitable for high school through adult audiences.”
Video Rating Guide For Libraries, 5 stars
“This is a simple, clear, quiet exposition … told truthfully, objectively, in utterly logical sequence, without resorting to the many forms of manipulation available to producers of television documentaries … it is a masterful example of excellence in the arts.”
Rabbi Joseph Glaser, Central Conference of American Rabbis
“Few documentaries play so effectively on the themes of reverence and justice. Reverence for a sacred tradition. Justice, which in this case has been callously infringed.”
Huston Smith, Professor & Author of “World Religions”
“Sure to provoke discussion … reminds us once again that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom … Highly recommended for public, high school, and university libraries.”
1993 Chicago International Film Festival “Silver Plaque”
1993 Great Plains Film Festival “Best Documentary”
1994 National Educational Film Fest “ Silver Apple”
1994 Birmingham Educational Film Festival “Best 9 – Adult”
1994 C.I.N.E. “Golden Eagle” Award
“YOUR HUMBLE SERPENT:
THE WISDOM OF REUBEN SNAKE”YOUR HUMBLE SERPENT is a portrait of the late American Indian political and spiritual leader, Reuben A. Snake, Jr., in which he speaks out on ecology, sacredness, intuitive thinking, and “The Rebrowning of America.” As Reuben grew up, his elders taught him that a leader is a servant to his people. His lived his life true to that teaching, serving his country as a Green Beret, his tribe as Winnebago Tribal Chairman, and all his Indian people as President of The National Conference of American Indians.
YOUR HUMBLE SERPENT “displays an intimacy that is rarely seen, even in film. Here is the Reuben Snake who turned humor and humility into leadership, practicing what he preached, that leadership emanates from respect, humor, & compassion”
Native American Journal
“An enlightening and inspiring look at a modern day American Indian leader and role model”
Huston Smith, Professor & Author of “World Religions”AWARDS:
1996 National Educational Film Fest “Bronze Apple Award”
1998 Red Earth Native Film Festival “Best Documentary Award”
“THE RED ROAD TO SOBRIETY:
THE CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN
SOBRIETY MOVEMENT”The Contemporary Native American Sobriety Movement is flourishing throughout the Indian communities of North America. This vital social movement combines ancient spiritual traditions with modern medical approaches to substance abuse recovery. In this spirited, and hopeful documentary, American Indian health practitioners and traditional medicine people reveal the importance of tribal values and spiritual awareness in the recovery process. As the historical segment of the program explains, substance abuse in Indian communities must be understood within the context of "The American Holocaust". Few Americans or Canadians are aware that the governments of North America used alcohol in their attempts to destroy Indigenous culture and acquire Indian lands.
The devastating effects were compounded by the circulation of "The Drunken Indian" stereotype. Faced with the loss of their religion, land, freedom and pride, Indian families experienced a syndrome known as intergenerational trauma, similar to the experiences of many families of European Holocaust survivors. Despite this serious indictment of governmental abuse, the driving force of this documentary is the positive spirit emanating from the Indian people interviewed. These people offer a new sense of hope to all people in recovery.
"The demoralized state to which Native Americans had been reduced, made alcoholism a special problem for them. It is heartening beyond words therefore, to find them coming together in their determination to resist this scourge. THE RED ROAD TO SOBRIETY celebrates this recent development. It is one of the most encouraging films of our decade."
PROFESSOR HUSTON SMITH
Author, The World’s Religions
“THE RED ROAD TO SOBRIETY validates and celebrates the unique cultural and spiritual approaches that Indian people are using to address alcohol and other drug problems. Native cultural leaders give voice to new historical perspectives in understanding the root causes of social problems in Indian communities."
BONNIE M. DURAN (Coushatta / Opelousas)
Assistant Professor of Public Health
University of New Mexico
1995 National Educational Media Network “SILVER APPLE AWARD”