American Graduate

Two brothers from the Onondaga Nation pursue their dreams of playing lacrosse for Syracuse University. With the dream nearly in reach, the boys are caught in a constant struggle to define their Native identity, live-up to their family's expectations and balance challenges on and off the Reservation.

Drugs, alcohol, poor education, and poverty are all common problems in Indian Country, and tribes everywhere are constantly trying to find ways to win those battles.

“Having grown up only an hour away from the Onondaga Nation, I was always fascinated by the rumors I heard of what life was like there—tales of a lawless territory unsafe for outsiders. I had to see what life was really like on the Nation, not only to open my own eyes, but hopefully many others as ignorant as myself. I was introduced to the Thompson family and was mesmerized by their story, their personalities, and their openness to a complete stranger from California with a video camera.

Recognizing a need to help students stay on the path to graduation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with participation from PBS, America's Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a new innovative program--American Graduate--has been established to combat the dropout crisis in this country. You can make a difference!

The hopes and heartbreaks of senior year of high school comprise a defining part of teenage life and lore in America. Graduation marks the end of childhood, partings from family, friends and community and the start of a future that is both exciting and scary. But for Thomas Martinez, a statewide high school cross-country and track star, and Tamara Hardy, an academic as well as athletic star, growing up on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico has heightened these tensions in ways particular to Native American history and contemporary reservation life.

In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools put it all on the line for Tribal pride, triumph over adversity and state championship glory. Win or lose, what they learn in the course of their seasons will have a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives.

Michelle Danforth (Oneida)
"For me, it was about creating something that my son and his friends would want to watch. Lacrosse is so important to many Native people, so sharing a small piece of it is equally exciting. When I first started, all I knew was that my husband had played lacrosse long ago, but the more I have learned, the more fascinated I am to learn even more."

Patty Loew (Ojibwe)

For the 7th Annual Longhouse Media's SuperFly Filmmaking Experience, Vision Maker Media was able to sponsor five Native youth to take part in this one-of-a-kind experience as an American Graduate initiative.

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A provocative film from the American Indian perspective that reframes today’s controversial energy debate while the fate of the environment hangs in the balance.

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Educators

Complement classroom discussion about America's energy future with this film, and help students comprehend the debate about the best use of natural resources.