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Four Portraits of Native Action

Tells the inspiring story of four battles in which Native American activists are fighting to preserve their land, sovereignty, and culture.

A printer-friendly version of this page 89 minutes
Directed by Roberta Grossman
Produced by The Katahdin Foundation
Executive Producer: Lisa B. Thomas
Director of Photography: Dyanna Taylor
Editors: Vivien Hillgrove, Blake West
Music:Todd Boekelheide
Co-Producer: Smokey Forester

"As captivating and beautifully filmed as any feature film" Alexis Karolides, Rocky Mountain Institute
Having brutally occupied the homeland of Native Americans, the invading Europeans forced the indigenous population onto reservations - land that was specifically selected because of its apparent worthlessness.

To add salt to wounds that are still open, multinational energy companies and others are coming back to extract the hidden mineral wealth of the reservations, and are leaving a trail of toxins that, if unchecked, will make the land unlivable for centuries to come.

But Native American activists are fighting back, and their inspirational stories are chronicled in "HOMELAND: Four Portraits of Native Action" against the backdrop of some of the country's most spectacular landscapes.

· Gail Small, an attorney from the Northern Cheyenne nation in Montana, is leading the fight to protect the Cheyenne homeland from 75,000 proposed methane gas wells that pollute the water and threaten to make much of the reservation unsuitable for farming or ranching.

· Evon Peter is the former chief of an isolated Alaska community of Gwich'in people, who are working against current efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

· Mitchell and Rita Capitan founded an organization of Eastern Navajo people in New Mexico whose only source of drinking water is threatened by proposed uranium mining.

· And Barry Dana, the former chief of the Penobscot Nation in Maine, is battling state government and the paper companies that have left his people unable to fish or swim in or harvest medicinal plants from the river on which they've depended for 10,000 years.

With the support of their communities, these leaders are actively rejecting the devastating affronts of multinational energy companies and the current dismantling of 30 years of environmental laws. They are dedicated to forcing change - to save their land, preserve their sovereignty and ensure the cultural survival of their people.

Framed by the ecological and spiritual wisdom of Winona LaDuke, HOMELAND presents a vision of how people all over the world can turn around the destructive policies of thoughtless resource plundering and create a new paradigm in which people can live healthier lives with greater understanding of, and respect for, the planet and all of its inhabitants.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2005     Copyright Date: 2005
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-267-X     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-266-1

"This is one of the most moving films I've seen in a long time. As captivating and beautifully filmed as any feature film, the message unfolds clearly and fairly, without the usual 'propaganda' tone, and somehow remains hopeful--a positive call to action... the way [the filmmakers] relayed the message as story telling, bringing the audience into the lives of real people--was brilliant, so much more effective than the usual documentary."
Alexis Karolides, AIA, Principal, Green Development Services, Rocky Mountain Institute

"Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action is a tragic and heroic tale documenting centuries of human and environmental rights violations against four Native American communities... Combining historical footage of Native American community life, the voices of articulate and passionate advocates who describe their spiritual and livelihood connections to their homelands, and politicians and scientists this documentary provides an account of human rights and environmental violations that should enrage all Americans and stimulate more people to consider the environmental cost of unlimited economic growth and to defend their rights to a healthy environment."
Amity Doolittle, PhD, Program Director, Tropical Resources Institute, Associate Research Scientist, Conservation and Development, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

"An in-depth look at an often overlooked area of environmental issues... These stories are important to all Americans who care about the state of the land, water, and air that we all depend on for survival... Watch, learn, and enjoy!"
Faye Hadley, Native American Resources/Reference Law Librarian, University of Tulsa College of Law

"Homeland paints powerful and moving portraits of Native action to protect natural resources that all peoples depend upon for life. This film is a 'must see' for students of environmental justice and grassroots activism. It provides insight into conflict between long-term survival and short-term profit making as it simultaneously illustrates courageous and effective advocacy for human rights and environmental protection."
Stefanie Wickstrom, Ph.D., Environmental Studies and Political Science, Green Mountain College

"Homeland is an enlightening and well-constructed program... An emotive score laced with native tones complements the often breathtaking footage of the threatened natural landscapes. Historical photographs and footage lend the viewer a sense of the scope and longevity of the struggles of native peoples. Commentary by perhaps the most well-known Native American activist, Winona LaDuke, punctuates and contextualizes the challenges facing the different tribes. The scientific processes that lead to environmental degradation are succinctly explained by geologists and other experts. All of these elements create a clear picture of how the Native Americans' spiritual connection to their homeland and way of life is threatened by unsustainable, harmful practices that affect us all... Highly Recommended."
Meghann Matwichuk, Morris Library, University of Delaware for Educational Media Reviews Online

"The treatment of the subject is first class, combining high end production values (it was shot on HD) with the intimacy of a 'point of view' documentary style... Landscapes are captured in evocative cinematography and archive footage is well chosen."
iofilm forum

"Beautifully crafted... Roberta Grossman skillfully intersperses vastly varied archival clips with quietly impassioned testimonials by tribal leaders and stunning lensing showcasing both the natural wonders and the manmade degradation of the landscape... Homeland merits a wider audience than provided by scattershot PBS airings... At a time when 30 years of environmental protection laws are being rapidly dismantled, Homeland militantly proposes America's First Peoples as the vangaurd of resistence."

"The story of a U.S. tragedy -- multinational companies doing their deadly work in Native peoples' backyards -- and of the brave few who stand up to combat it."
Utne Reader

"There's ample evidence to suggest that [tribal peoples'] causes are anything but hopeless, and despite daunting odds, there's undeniable unity and nobility among the Native American groups who are profiled. Recommended."
Video Librarian

"Visually stunning... [Homeland] is a perfect blend of visuals, words, musical background, and thought-provoking issues related not only to Native Americans but to the environmental crisis facing America. History, current events, and government classes can utilize this film to explore a host of issues and as a springboard for debate."
School Library Journal

"Director Grossman's efficient multifocus gives the average viewer a broad picture of contemporary dilemmas faced by Native peoples... Recommended for larger collections and general audiences."
Library Journal

"One of the least known but most important human rights stories today... [Homeland] highlights how the situation is far worse than I imagined. At the same time it shows how First Nations are fighting back, and sometimes winning... This film is beautiful to look at showing spectacular backdrops from Alaska to Maine to Montana to New Mexico... it is a call to action showing how grassroots organizing and environmental lawyers can help in the fight. I recommend this film with the highest possible salute."
Brian McKenna, Ph.D., Anthropologist, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Michigan-Dearborn

"Homeland is a poignant and powerful portrait of how corporate power and government complicity are ruining our precious land, air, water. It is a troubling film, but also inspiring, because it shows Indians, who are the best guardians of the natural environment, fighting back against great odds, and refusing to give up."
Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

"Homeland is a moving portrait of Native American communities struggling to preserve their cultural dignity and environmental stewardship in the face of ongoing governmental and corporate oppression."
Julian Wise, The Martha's Vineyard Times

"Elegant... finds and celebrates the vibrant spiritual bonds that unite its central characters... Astonishingly good cinematography."
David Templeton, The Bohemian

"Homeland... represents the very best in documentaries being produced in the US today."
Berkeley Video and Film Festival

"A compelling, in-depth look at the environmental pressures that Native American reservations across the country are currently facing."
Jenny Shank, New West Magazine

"Powerful. Wrenching. Our [Best of Festival] decision was unanimous."
Alan Root, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

"These stories have been, and continue to be, underreported in the mainstream press. It is our hope that this documentary will reach a broader audience, increase understanding of the environmental hazards faced on tribal lands, and increase support for the struggles of these and other native peoples."
Voices from the Earth

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DVD Features
The DVD allows you to play each of the four stories as a separate film that stands on its own, making the stories more readily usable in a classroom period.

Links The producers' website
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
American Library Association's VRT Notable Videos for Adults List
American Library Association's YALSA Notable Videos for Young Adults List
Grand Teton Award (Best of Festival), Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival
CINE Golden Eagle
The Chris Award, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Audience Award, Social Justice Award, Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Award of Excellence, Indian Summer Film & Video Image Awards, Milwaukee
Spirit of Activism Award, Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Environmentalism and Social Justice Award, EarthVision Environmental Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Chicago International Television Awards
American Sociological Association's Annual Meeting Film/Video Screenings
Vancouver International Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, San Francisco
Vermont International Film Festival
Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Terres en Vues
The Native Voice Film Festival
Heard Museum Film Festival
Indigenous Rights Watch Film Festival, Washington, DC
Durango Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Ecocinema Film Festival, Athens, Greece
Montreal First Peoples Film & VIdeo Festival
Maine International Film Festival
Human Rights Nights Film Festival, Bologna
Friends of the Oglala Lakota Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Hamptons International Film Festival
Brownfields Film Series
Native Cinema Showcase, Santa Fe
Native American Filmmakers Film Festival, Albuquerque
Anchorage International Film Festival
Seattle Environmental Film Festival
Cine Las Americas International Film Festival
Dreamspeakers International Film Festival, Edmonton
CHAOS Film Festival, Boulder
IMAGeNation Aboriginal Film and Video Festival, Vancouver
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Black Bear Film Festival
U.S. Social Forum Film Festival
"Audience Choice" Global Green Indigenous Film Festival

American Studies
Arctic Studies
Business Practices
Citizenship and Civics
Environmental Ethics
Environmental Justice
Human Rights
Multicultural Studies
Native Americans
Natural Resources
Political Science

Social Justice
Toxic Chemicals
Western US
Women's Studies

Related Titles

Homeland (Short Version)
A shorter version of the inspiring story of four battles in which Native American activists are fighting to preserve their land, sovereignty, and culture.

American Outrage
Two elderly Western Shoshone sisters, the Danns, put up a heroic fight for their land rights and human rights.

In the Light of Reverence
A stunning portrait of land-use conflicts over Native American sacred sites on public and private land around the West from the producers of STANDING ON SACRED GROUND.

Standing on Sacred Ground
In this 4-part series, indigenous people from eight different cultures stand up for their traditional sacred lands in defense of cultural survival, human rights and the environment.

John Pilger's epic portrayal of Earth's oldest continuous human culture, Aboriginal Australians, and his investigation into Australia's suppressed colonial past and rapacious present.

Explores the sea change in national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the call for dam removal as awareness grows that our own future is bound to the health of our rivers.

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Toxic chemicals are the greatest threat to the survival of indigenous peoples.

Tar Creek
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Baked Alaska
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How does uranium mining impact the land and the health of people?

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A piercing look at the global corporate drive to control and profit from our water -- from bottles to tap.

Arrows Against the Wind
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Arid Lands
A moving and complex essay on a unique landscape of the American West, the area around the Hanford Site in Washington State.

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