Growing Native

Indigenous communities around the world and in the U.S. resist threats to their sacred places—the original protected lands—in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment.

In this four-part documentary series, Native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land in the form of government megaprojects, consumer culture, and resource extraction as well as competing religions and climate change.

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.

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.

The following are video chapters created to match with lesson plans outlined in the educational guide for Indian Relay.

Click the title of the chapter to see video.

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.

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Food is my final addiction frontier. Unlike alcohol, drugs and smoking, however, it is a stubborn presence that will remain a part of life forever.

Growing Native will be a seven-part series focusing on reclaiming traditional knowledge and food ways to address critical issues of health and wellness, the environment and human rights.

Growing Native started out with a tomato. It was, at first glance, just a regular tomato – round, red, and quite delicious. But on a cold winter day many years ago, Vision Maker Media’s Executive Director Shirley K. Sneve (Sicangu Lakota) thought about that tomato for a minute and something clicked.

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What does Growing Native mean to you? That is a question we posed to the Growing Native Advisory Council as we went through pre-production. The answers we received were varied, but connected – it’s growing us as a people in a way that sustains us as a people, it’s taking things that we knew and that worked in the past and building on that, it’s illustrating the interconnectedness of everything that we do.

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This February, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel up to Alaska to film the latest episode of Growing Native. This trip would be the first of two as host Chris Eyre explores Alaska and all its Native cultures has to offer. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Alaska is a special place. Having never been to Alaska before, I was anxious to discover for myself just what exactly all the hoopla was about, and I figured two days would be enough. I was coming to Alaska with a mission – locate that elusive quality that takes the breath away and get it on film.

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