Growing Native

Growing Native

       

Growing Native Blogs

The Super Bowl for me and my family this year was not a big deal. Although I have always been a big fan and it was my favorite sport to play growing up, I was not a big fan of either team (New England Patriots or the New York Giants). I do appreciate both quarterbacks--Eli Manning and Tom Brady--but really did not care much who won the game. I did end up pulling for the Patriots only because the Giants pulled the big upset at the last Super Bowl they played in (I think it was 2006).

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Who wouldn't want to be against piracy? But the legislation before Congress today, goes too far. The "Stop Online Piracy Act" and the "Protect IP Act" could fundamentally change the Internet, as we know it—limiting the openness and creativity of the Internet that our communities have fought for. Among other things, these bills could censor websites, limit innovation, and kill jobs—outcomes that our communities cannot afford.

This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first experience with the Sundance Film Festival. As a senior in High school in 2002, I had the honor of being selected to participate in the Gen-Y Studio, a former program that gave young filmmakers the opportunity to share ideas, explore filmmaking and learn about new technologies at the Sundance Film Festival.
Vision Maker Media seeks stories that can be included in the seven-part series, Growing Native, which will focus on reclaiming traditional knowledge and food ways to address critical issues of health and wellness, the environment and human rights.
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A very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to you all! One of the best things I’ve enjoyed as a journalist is the opportunity to learn how many folks – including native people – ring in the Yuletide cheer. I remember a Yankton Sioux recollecting his childhood in South Dakota, where an Indian Santa brought toys, food, and clothes, to the tribal community center in the 1950s. Kris Kringle told all the kids that he’d just arrived via flying saucer (sci-fi was big back then).
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I recently attended imagineNative where my film, Up Heartbreak Hill, had its Canadian premiere. The festival was amazing – it ran from Oct. 19 – 23 in Toronto and was a whirlwind of films, panels and networking opportunities. The festival kicked off with a screening of On the Ice and The Country of Wolves, which were both phenomenal. At the opening night party, I had the chance to chat with a number of Khoi-San filmmakers and artists, who were there as a part of the delegation representing South Africa’s indigenous community.

In 2004, thirteen Indigenous grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering in Phoenicia, New York. At this event, they decided to form an alliance called "The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers" in response to a prophecy made by their ancestors thousands of years ago.

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I had the opportunity to interview Frank Blythe, who is my grandpa and Founding Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, as well as my mom, Francine Blythe, who is Executive Director of the National Geographic All Roads Film Project. The three of us were in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the same time and we got together for a cookout.

I just finished reading an article by Cheryl Crazy Bull on behalf of Indian Country Today Media Network. The article, entitled "Education is Key to Prosperity,"really struck a chord with me, and I must say that I whole-heartedly agree.

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This past Saturday was the world premiere of my documentary The Thick Dark Fog at the 36th annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. Walter Littlemoon, the subject of the film, and his wife Jane Ridgway were in attendance. Full house at the Embarcadero Center Cinema! A packed house watched the film and then had the opportunity to ask Walter and myself questions afterwards. Also joining us were producer Jonathan Skurnik, composer Kathryn Bostic and wardrobe person and actress Joyce Ferrer.

After attending the NETA conference in Kansas City October 19-20, 2011, I came away with lots of great ideas and motivation on how to promote, produce and bring stories of diverse backgrounds and experiences to public television audiences.

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Getting together with a group of thoughtful, determined media makers to discuss the future is always a meaningful experience. Add a group of top-notch educators into the mix and what you have is something special. That’s what happened last month when Vision Maker Media, along with the Institute for American Indian Arts, graciously hosted a gathering of media makers and educators in Santa Fe to discuss everything from how media can effectively reach students in the classroom to creating national media campaigns for that very same media.

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I received valuable professional information about working as a documentary producer during the Media for Change workshop with Molly Murphy from Working Films on August 19 of this year. I am fundamentally a writer, director, cinematographer and editor, but I will be making my first foray into documentary producing for an upcoming project in my company, Red Ant Films.

The Media for Change workshop held by Vision Maker Media brought to light many of the challenges facing both educators and independent producers today. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the needs and desires of educators, the model of the independent producer engaged in content creation for public television, and the shifting realities of funding and distribution.

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Rarely a day goes by where I don’t thank the forces of social networking and how it has helped my film along in many ways. I credit Facebook- without hesitation- for bringing in thousands of dollars to my fundraising campaign on Kickstarter this past June from one single email plea to my friends, family and colleagues.

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