Drop Out Crisis

Q. Why is it important to have films created, written, and produced by Natives in today’s media?

A. Indian Country is home to compelling and important stories just waiting to be told and voices which need to be heard. Who better to tell these stories than Natives filmmakers? As a fan of documentary film, I want to hear what Native filmmaker’s have to say, I want to hear new voices. The documentary landscape should always evolve and expand, and diversity is the key to all of this.

Every Monday night in the small community of Shiprock, New Mexico, a group of young Navajo leaders meet to decide how they will help their community. For more than seven years, the Northern Diné Youth Committee has worked to give youth opportunities to directly make changes within their community. But while the NDYC works to make changes, many members also consider their own futures, commitments to family and the world outside of the Shiprock. While they love their community, they all must consider their options both on and off the reservation.

What does it take for a contemporary Native family to thrive on their reservation? Badger Creek is a portrait of Native resilience as seen through a year in the life of three generations of a Blackfeet family living on the reservation in Montana. The loving and sober Momberg family members run a successful ranch, live a traditional worldview and are relearning their language.

Navajo Math Circles follows Navajo students in a lively collaboration with mathematicians. Using a model called math circles, the students stay late after school and assemble over the summer at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, to study mathematics. The math circles approach emphasizes student-centered learning by putting children in charge of exploring mathematics to their own joy and satisfaction.

Legendary as one of America's greatest horse tribes, the 21st century Nez Perce decided to bring horses back to their land and lives with the unlikely help of a charismatic Navajo horseman, Rudy Shebala.

Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota) is an artist and producer from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. After graduating valedictorian at his high school and starting college as a pre-medical student at Creighton University through the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, he recently graduated from Colombia College Chicago to pursue his dream in music. As a member of the Native American band, Nake Nula Waun, he became the youngest person ever in 2010 to win the Native American Music Award for Best Producer.

Charles "Boots" Kennedye  is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and a documentary producer at OETA (Oklahoma Educational Television Authority). He's been at the helm of projects such as Oklahoma World War II Stories, The State of Sequoyah and worked with Rocky Mountain PBS in 2011 on Urban Rez.

Gyasi Ross is of both the Blackfeet nation and the Suquamish nation, and currently lives on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.  He is a father, lawyer, filmmaker and author.  For many people living on the reservation Ross is the only lawyer they know, he said, and so he gives legal advice as best he can. Above his various vocations, Ross is most passionate about being a father to his son.

From Tohatchi, New Mexico, on the Navajo Reservation, Ramona Emerson (Diné) is a filmmaker who received her degree in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico in 1997 and has worked as a professional videographer, writer, and editor. Over her thirteen-year career, Emerson has received support from the State of New Mexico, National Geographic, Sundance Institute, and the Ford Foundation.

Vision Maker Media says goodbye to Blue Tarpalechee (Muscogee-Creek), who has been a project coordinator with Vision Maker Media since 2011. In this role, he coordinated educational resources for the organization and served as associate producer for the highly anticipated upcoming series "Growing Native," hosted by Chris Eyre.

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.

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