Julianna Brannum (2007)
Julianna Brannum (2007)
“I’m looking forward to January 2009,” Julianna Brannum says with a smile when asked about her current project, We Shall Remain. “I’m looking forward to seeing all five episodes.”
Much of the Native American population is in the same boat. We Shall Remain is a groundbreaking, prime time, PBS series due for completion in 2009. It will be the first historical documentary in American History told completely from a native point of view.
“We’ve sort of been relegated to what non-Indians perceive our history to be and it’s not necessarily the case,” says Brannum.
According to Brannum, the different point of view will drastically change how the history of our country is viewed.
“I think how our history has been told is so romantic, and I think a lot of our history is told that way.”
Native people across the country have been calling for changes to history books that they feel portray the past in a biased way. We Shall Remain hopes to bring some light to the way native people view their history.
The series will also cover controversies within the native community, an example being the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. The standoff led to the growth of the American Indian Movement, a group that has improved Native rights for nearly four decades.
“There were certain really great things that came out of the occupation of Wounded Knee…But there were also some really awful things,” says Brannum.
“If we are given the opportunity to not let these sort of bad things just get swept under the rug and have the whole story told, then we’ll feel more whole as a people.”
Another exciting aspect of the We Shall Remain project is a possible addition to the film’s website. Benjamin Walker, a consultant for WGBH, has started a pilot project involving cell phone filmmaking. If the project gets off of the ground native communities around the country will be able to upload videos of their personal stories to be shown on the We Shall Remain website.
“The goal, ultimately, is to have people from the reservations making stories about place,” says Brannum.
“They make short four to six minute films about something that is special to them.”
The uploaded films should add a more personal and detailed view of how different native people live throughout the country.
Future projects for Brannum include a possible biography of LaDonna Harris, a Comanche activist. Harris worked in the White House for many years and was the first Senator’s wife to ever testify before a Congressional committee. Brannum feels that Harris’ story will compliment her section of the We Shall Remain project very well.
“We Shall Remain has been sort of the grass roots, the kind of edgier groups that were doing things with the American Indian Movement and other activist organizations. I think it will be kind of interesting to sort of see what people were doing within the federal government.”
As Brannum, and the rest of the native community await the release of We Shall Remain they can only hope that the film finally gives native history a fair shake.
“It’s long overdue, it’s about time that we have voices in how our stories are told,” says Brannum.
In 2009, both sides of history will finally be seen.
By Zach Oliva