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For centuries, the American narrative has been rewritten to conceal the unthinkable crimes against humanity on which this country was founded. These historical violations and the continued systemic oppression of indigenous communities not only go unacknowledged, they are often denied by those in positions of power.
Native Americans were violently removed from 99% of their homeland and forced into so–called “reservations” where they have been subjected to some of the worst poverty and unthinkable living conditions in the country. These reservations have epidemic rates of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and suicide.
The Lakota, also known as the Teton Sioux, are one of the seven Sioux tribes of the Great Plains and one of 563 Federally recognized tribes in America. Once a nomadic tribe living in tipis, they were forced onto the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the late 19th century. The majority of people now live in small trailers that house upwards of 18 family members, many without electricity or running water.
Documentary film is a vital component in holding people, governments and corporations accountable. To date, no film has focused solely on the women currently living on the second largest Indian Reservation and poorest county in the United States. The voices of the Lakota women have been captured by Deborah Anderson, who worked intimately, compassionately and artfully to bring their stories to life through her camera, to speak truth to the power of their strength as Lakota Women.
This film has the capacity to shed light on the complex stories and increasingly urgent issues all Indigenous peoples face in todays society. It is a tangible call to action with the ability to engage audiences in this critical conversation, and to serve as a conduit for deeper understanding of the crisis Indigenous peoples - and ultimately all of us - are now facing in the current climate of the world.
The unforgettable voices of these determined women inspire us with their strength, gifting us with ancient insights that speak to our current global environmental and cultural crises. These are the powerfully rich stories of brave women and children living in the poorest county in the United States. In their words… “It's a prisoner of war camp.”
The intention of this film is to shine a light on our Native sisters and to include their voices in this current wave of global Women’s resistance. To inspire the next generation of Native Americans to remember who they are and utilize their own ancient wisdom in the much needed healing of their communities. To gift non Native people an opportunity to learn from this beautiful and powerful culture and confront the forces that perpetuate inequality and historical racism which keep us separated from one another.
As they say in Lakota, Mitákuye Oyás'iŋ, “We are all related
An ancient Native matriarchal society was upended by centuries of genocide and colonialism. This resulted in culturally sabotaged and isolated communities that are in a constant struggle to save what remains of their sacred identity. The Lakota women living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, are rising up against the forces that continue to suppress them. By preserving and protecting their ancestral values and wisdom, they provide a source of hope to their people.
With exclusive access to the the lives of 8 women, ranging in age from 10 to 98 years old, we deliver harrowing testimonials of loss and survival and gain insight into what it is to be a modern Native American. With inclusion of current statistics along with historical accounts, we track how these present day conditions came to be.
10 years old - born to a mother struggling with alcoholism and methamphetamine addiction. She is now being raised by her father’s partner Vandee - 36 years old - herself a survivor of drug abuse and teen sex-trafficking, who has dedicated her life to other Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (#MMIWG).
21 years old - survivor of rape and abuse. She is studying Tribal Law and guiding the youth in their Native ways as a competitive dancer and horse racer.
32 years old - artist, activist, poet, and teacher fighting everyday to help her students remember the Lakota ways in a world that wants them to forget.
46 years old - runs a safe house for young kids struggling with methamphetamine addiction in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the reservation.
60 years old - lost her daughter in a suicide that was never investigated. She is revered by many for her sacred role as a preparer of traditional foods for ceremony.
67 years old - shows younger generations of women the sacred Lakota ceremonies and reminds the Lakota people of their traditional tribal ways in their own language on her weekly radio show.
UNCI (Grandmother) MARIE
97 years old - an elder whose life of activism and unwavering hope has stood in the face of a century of oppression to carry the torch for indigenous rights and value.
The Elders are the wisdom keepers. We must pay attention to these women as their voices are going unheard much to the detriment of their lives and their loved ones.
Murdered, sex trafficked and missing Indigenous women are mostly unrecorded at an alarming rate. According to communities and local authorities the numbers are rising.
Many non-indigenous people still hold onto the understanding that Native American lives hold no value and therefore are the most in danger of being sex trafficked.
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/WRITER – DEBORAH ANDERSON's photographic work has graced the covers of pop music albums and magazines, the walls of landmark hotels and private homes worldwide with an expansive clientele. Her photographic work has hung in galleries both in Europe and the US and currently the world class Leica Galleries are hosting shows globally for this project. Deborah’s first feature documentary film project "AROUSED" included a fine art photographic book featuring 16 world renowned female adult film stars. The film was theatrically released reaching #3 on iTunes documentary most viewed list and is currently featured on Showtime and Amazon. She has created short films for various artists including award winning writer and activist Eve Ensler for her One Billion Rising organization " MY REVOLUTION" featuring actress Rosario Dawson. Poet, Gina Loring, collaborated on the short film "WALKING PRAYERS" that went viral and was featured in the New York Times.
PRODUCER – ADAM SCHOMER is a documentary film/tv director and producer and president of i2i Productions. His award winning film THE HIGHEST PASS (2012) was theatrically released and took a deep look at fear and death amidst an epic Himalayan motorcycle adventure. THE POLYGON (2014) explored the villages most affected by forty years of Soviet nuclear testing. ONE LITTLE PILL (2015) reveals a new method to treat alcoholism that has been held back for too long. He returned to the Himalayas to produce and direct THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2018), a 10-episode docu-series for television currently in post production, takes us on an motorcycle yogic adventure. Recently, Adam Schomer produced and released the feature documentary HEAL (2017) that looks at the science and journey behind changing one’s beliefs, thoughts, emotions and perceptions in order to cure disease. HEAL was theatrically released and is a #1 Best-Selling Documentary on iTunes.
PRODUCER/CINEMATOGRAPHER – KUMIKO HAYASHI was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a documentary director, producer, and cinematographer. She is the founder of Soka Vision, an organization dedicated to creating value and community through media. She is the director/ producer of the film, THE ROOTS AWAKEN (2019) a documentary about indigenous tribes in Ecuador rising up in a united prayer to protect their culture and territory. AMANECER (2014) a feature-length film about the birth of the indigenous Hip Hop movement in South America. As a visionary, her involvement in vast humanitarian projects has carried her across the countries of Haiti, Turkey, Ecuador, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. She has presented her work in conferences and gatherings around the world and she is currently establishing a center for peace education in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest for the protection of ancestral cultures and medicine.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER – LEKHA SINGH, a successful artist in her own right, has traveled the globe creating art that expresses the commonality of human experience by finding startling and impossible beauty in poor, little known places of destitution and desolation. She produced, co-directed BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG, Stories of Justice and Forgiveness. winning many awards amongst which, Best Avant Garde Film by American Psychological Association, Best Documentary Film at Fingal Film Festival and runner-up for Best Documentary at LA Jewish Film Festival. 2012. As executive Producer, THE SQUARE was Oscar nominated and also won several Emmy Awards, and received the Directors Guild of America. 2013. She was Executive Producer on, FOOD CHAINS which won many awards including the James Beard Award for Specials and the Brit Doc Impact Award in 2014.
WRITER /CO-PRODUCER - CHARLOTTE CHATTON worked for over 15 years as a professional Film & TV actress in London and Los Angeles before entering an intensive screenwriting program at Writers Boot Camp, where she eventually became an instructor. Recognizing the writer’s need for deeper insight into character development, Charlotte founded The Next Level Script and is now an international go-to story analyst and script doctor to award-winning directors, producers and actors. She was the first Executive Producer to support the critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary, California Typewriter, which premiered at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival and was nominated for 3 Critics’ Choice Awards. ‘Women of the White Buffalo’ is the first feature to be co-produced under her new banner, Westmount Pictures, and will be followed by more boundary-pushing projects currently in development.
Keely Shaye Brosnan
Carol Iron Rope Herrera
Miguel Rama Torres
Miguel Rama Torres
Miguel Rama Torres
Deborah Anderson Creative Production
Initial filming took place in February/March 2018 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The team returned for further shooting in July/August 2018 which completed the filming portion of this project.
Completed film delivery May 2019, with release distribution set for 2020