Tracy Rector (2013)


Tracy Rector (2013)

Tracy Rector (Seminole) is bringing her knowledge and experience as a filmmaker, educator, and naturalist to her latest documentary Clearwater to tell a universal story about the need to adapt to change. Rector is co-directing with Lou Karsen to bring the documentary film to public television in 2014.

Tracy is the Executive Director/Co-Founder of Longhouse Media in Seattle, Wash. The mission of Longhouse Media is to catalyze Indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change. Over the eight years of Longhouse Media’s existence, they have worked with over 2,000 youth, produced over 300 short films, and worked with 37 tribal communities.

“I have had the opportunity to witness starting from the very beginning the nonprofit organization. It’s been a huge journey and a huge learning curve,” Rector said. “It’s something I love, having the opportunity to meet tribal peoples from so many different lands and communities and understanding the beauty of all the diversity that really is part of being an Indigenous person.”

Unexpectedly, Rector’s life journey and experiences came full circle and prepared her as a filmmaker. “I came to understand that all of my experiences working with Native Alaskans, the fish packing company, survivors of domestic violence, and Traditional medicine, it all came together in filmmaking and understanding the power of story and witnessing peoples’ experiences.” Rector’s non-traditional path to filmmaking allowed her to assist as a Native education specialist, curriculum developer, naturalist, and a domestic-abuse counselor before her filmmaking career.

Clearwater is the story of the unique relationship between tribal peoples and the waters of the Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean and part of the Salish Sea in Washington. For nearly 15,000 years the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest have called these waters home, and have time and time again had to adapt to environmental, social, and political changes in order to survive. Now faced with unprecedented challenges that threaten the very chemistry of these ocean waters, they are forced to adapt again.

Beyond the broadcast and screening of her film, Rector wants to make change for the better of communities through another non-traditional approach.

“We’re trying to learn about transmedia and community support of documentary storytelling. We are working with youth once again in creating video blogs and research to help support Clearwater,” commented Rector.

With help from the Suquamish Fisheries and Seattle Aquarium, Rector plans on developing a community awareness plan, curriculum, and additional educational materials to support the efforts of the film. 

“With the students, our goals are to not have this be a one-off project but something that is a catalyst for awareness for the community, and for the people of the Puget Sound region to understand the historical significance of the tribal relationship to water but also how we can all move forward in a better way,” said Rector.

With a successful Kickstarter campaign that gained 251 backers and raised $26,000 dollars, Rector’s fundraising strategy goes beyond crowdsource funding. Working very close in partnership with scientists, such as tribal biologists of the Suquamish Tribe, and tribal leaders, Rector hopes this will open doors for scientific funding.

The Clearwater team is planning on taking their time to find adequate funding that will allow them to immerse themselves in the Suquamish community and the fishing communities of the Puget Sound. Being a part of the story with the history, culture, and water is important to Rector. “I think that as a filmmaker I have come to understand that creating film is more than art, more than a production, it’s a way of life. And, I myself have been transformed, and I see the transformative qualities of telling a story and creating a film.”

Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT)/Vision Maker Media provided funding to Clearwater to advance media that represents the experiences, values, and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Interviews were conducted by Georgiana Lee and edited by Danny Fast.

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