American Graduate

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.

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.

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.

A stunning coming-of-age journey set on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Set against a background of rising tension and protest, a Lakota teenager learns first-hand what it means to lead a new generation and enter adulthood in a world where the odds are stacked against him.

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.

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Should tribes like the Shoshone and Arapaho attempt to bring back beautiful ancestral objects—drums, pipes, eagle wing fans, medicine bags, weapons, and ceremonial attire that ar