American Graduate

Embark on a journey of transformation as three sisters from the Pine Ridge Reservation reconnect with their incarcerated father via a series of video letters. The Poor Bear girls are not sure they even want to connect--but their mother, Cindy, helps them overcome reluctance and hurt.

Thomas, Tamara and Gabby--three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico--traverse their senior year at a Reservation high school. As graduation approaches, they must decide whether to stay in their community--a place inextricably linked to their identity--or leave in pursuit of opportunities elsewhere.

For Navajo and Hopi Tribes, running is more than a sport. The film moves beyond stereotypes of the past and present as two high school boys' cross country teams--Tuba City and Chinle--compete for the state championship title.

In the 1950s, two refineries were built on March Point, an area that was once part of the Swinomish Reservation by treaty. Three boys awaken to the destruction that these refineries have brought in their communities. Ambivalent environmental ambassadors at the onset, the boys grapple with their assignment through humor.

The history of lacrosse in North America is a rich and multi-layered one. Much more than a Native American ball and stick game, lacrosse is a cultural window into Native American communities and their historical relationship with each other and the dominant culture.

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.

Follow-up series now available
The Medicine Game: Four Brothers, One Dream

Injunuity is a collage of reflections on the Native American world, our shared past, our turbulent present, and our undiscovered future. From Columbus to the western expansion to tribal casinos, we are taught that the Native way, while at times glorious, is something of the past, something that needed to be replaced by a manifest destiny from across the ocean. But in a world increasingly short of real answers, it is time we looked to Native wisdom for guidance. It is time for some Injunuity.

Blog Series:

This session was presented as a three-hour clinic. We began our session with introductions and a question prompt of “What is ‘home’?” Each participant shared, with one even highlighting that where she lived wasn’t her ‘home’. This was a perfect transition into the introduction, “What is ‘home’ for the Poncas?” Larry led a brief discussion about the historical aspects of the tribe and how the documentary, curriculum and the workshop sections of the project began to take shape.

Blog Series:

Author: 
The month of February found me back at the Ponca tribal community of White Eagle working with the students to create a video for the American Graduate Film festival. The video is to address the festival theme is, the dropout crisis in America. The plan was to bring back the students from the Standing Bear's Meaning of Home summer program for another round of making digital media with Mac Air books using I-movie. With the deadline the first of March, we beganwith classes twice a week.

Swil Kanim (Lummi) is an award-winning violinist and inspirational speaker. He travels throughout the United States, inspiring audiences through his music and personal stories. His compositions incorporate classical influences and reflect his journey from depression and despair to spiritual and emotional freedom.

Swil Kanim is also the president of Honor Works, a nonprofit organization who mission is "to create and ignite the potential for Honor among all people."

Blog Series:

As a relatively new member of the Vision Maker Media board of directors, I have been on a steep learning curve. I am so honored to have the opportunity to explore the whole arena of public television and film development for Native people, especially being an educator where we are always looking for authentic, relevant, culturally based materials to further educate ourselves and others. I am a Hochunk/Anishanabe with over 40 years of experience as an educator, focusing mostly on Native and multicultural education.

Raven Chacon is a member of the Dine’ Nation and an experimental musician, composer and educator. Raven has been building his own instruments for creating new sounds since he was a child growing up in Chinle. Today he teaches Native youth through various programs including the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project (NACAP).

We recently  talked with Raven about his influences, composing and the next generation of Native musicians.

Written by Eric Martin

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