Mike Martz

Lincoln, Neb.: All-star filmmaking duo–Comanche producer and director Julianna Brannum and executive producer Johnny Depp (TranscendencePirates of the CaribbeanThe Lone Ranger)–bring the story of politically influential Native American leader LaDonna Harris to Public Television stations nationwide with broadcasts beginningNovember 1.
LaDonna Harris reshaped Indian Country both in America and abroad. A Comanche from Oklahoma, she helped convince the Nixon administration to return sacred land to the Taos Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, founded the Americans for Indian Opportunity in 1970, and became a vice-presidential nominee in 1980.

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 is a reflection of her political achievements, personal struggles, and the events that led her to becoming a voice for Native people. Raised on a farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, LaDonna did not attend college. However, she studied and learned alongside her husband, Fred Harris, who would become a U.S. Senator. Upon his taking office, she too undertook a public service role.

LaDonna is best known for her work in U.S. civil rights when she set the tone with a landmark legislation initiative that returned land to the Taos Pueblo Tribe and Native tribes of Alaska. She also served a pivotal role in helping the Menominee Tribe regain their federal recognition.

Her trailblazing efforts began when President Lyndon B. Johnson selected her to educate both the executive and legislative branches of U.S. government on the unique relationship that American Indian tribes hold within our nation. This education course was affectionately called “Indian 101″ and was taught to members of Congress and other federal agencies for over 35 years.

La Donna Harris: Indian 101 is the first documentary about the Native activist and national civil rights leader, LaDonna Harris. Brannum commented, “LaDonna’s unique and bi-partisan approach to political and social issues made her a much-loved and well-respected icon in Washington. Not only was she a major force in Indian Country, but the media loved her and high-level politicians sought her input.”

Held in the highest regard by her colleagues for countless social and historical achievements, LaDonna is now passing her knowledge on to a new generation of emerging Indigenous leaders. With participation from students worldwide, LaDonna has created an educational program that trains Native professionals to incorporate their own tribes’ traditional values and perspectives into their work while building a global Indigenous coalition.

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101–which received major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Vision Maker Media–is an offering of PBS Plus. This one-hour documentary will be available to public television stations nationwide on Friday, October 31, 2014, with rights beginning November 1, 2014. This program is suggested for scheduling for Native American Heritage Month. For viewing information in your area, please visit www.visionmakermedia.org/watch.

About Vision Maker Media
Vision Maker Media shares Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Founded in 1977, Vision Maker Media, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, nurtures creativity for development of new projects, partnerships, and funding. Vision Maker Media is the premier source for quality Native American and Pacific Islander educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media–to be the next generation of storytellers. Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we offer student employment and internships. For more information, visitwww.visionmakermedia.org.

About PBS Plus
PBS Plus is an optional programming service for public television stations, providing fully underwritten series and specials. Over 99% of PBS stations subscribe to this service-reaching 100% national TV households. Annually, stations are provided with approximately 600 hours of programming.

As a new school year begins, I wanted to share with you an editorial from retired general Colin Powell and his wife Alma on the importance mentors can have in the lives of our young people, especially  those struggling with school and other problems.  General Powell speak very elequently about encouraging us all to learn more about how to help and get involved with our young people to help them graduate and lead fulfilling lives.

At-risk students need more help from us, not Washington

By Colin L. Powell, Alma J. Powell and Laysha Ward August 29, 2014

Colin L. Powell, a retired U.S. Army general and former secretary of state, was founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance. Alma J. Powell is chair of the group’s board. Laysha Ward is president of community relations for Target, which sponsored the “Don’t Call Them Dropouts” report.

Nico Rodriguez was 15 years old when he found himself living on the streets of Lowell, Mass., with no plans for a high school diploma, no home to call his own and, seemingly, no future. Rodriguez was a statistic: one of the 20 percent of students who do not finish high school on time, if ever.

These pages often carry arguments for education reform, but despite the importance of issues such as Common Core and teacher tenure, bad policy isn’t what drove Rodriguez from school, nor is it the biggest problem facing most of the nation’s non-graduates. According to the most recent America’s Promise Alliance report, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” which surveyed 2,000 such young people from across the country, the reasons students leave school early are primarily environmental — including chronic absenteeism, homelessness, unsafe neighborhoods, negative role models and the need to be caregivers for parents and siblings.

What young people like Rodriguez need most is not necessarily more action in Washington but more action from us: caring adults willing to engage in a developmental relationship and the ability to help them imagine — and work toward — a better future. In a perfect world, this would be the role of every child’s parents, extended family and community of friends, but this is not a perfect world. Too many young people make it all the way through their teens without having known a single caring adult.

This month in Los Angeles, city schools superintendent John Deasy welcomed back his administrators with an assignment: Look under your chairs, and you’ll find the name of a struggling student. “Find that youth,” Deasy said. “Stay with him or her until graduation. We are absolutely our brothers’ or sisters’ keepers.”

The Los Angeles effort is an investment in our shared future, because the numbers affect us all. Right now in the United States, about 2.5 million people ages 16 to 24 don’t have high school degrees and are not enrolled in school. With no high school diploma, these young people will be lucky to end up in dead-end jobs.

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, were the United States to convert enough non-graduates into graduates to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate, it would result in an additional $8.1 billion in increased earnings every year. Non-graduates are disproportionately African American and Hispanic, presenting much more significant risk for the communities of color that will make up the U.S. majority by 2043. This is not a winning formula for the United States’ future.

If you want to change the world, start with a single child. Look at the difference one caring adult made in Rodriguez’s life. After leaving school, Rodriguez found a mentor at a local teen center. Sakieth “Sako” Long, the director of Youth Success at the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell and once also labeled “at risk,” took Rodriguez under his wing and connected him with resources so he could manage the chaos in his life and begin to make time for success in school. Long helped Rodriguez toward a better future, one in which he was thriving, earning and contributing.

Rodriguez was resilient. He completed high school and is working two jobs and training to be a chef. He has started mentoring other young people and is making plans to buy his own home and start a business. More than anything, Rodriguez wants to be for his 3-year-old daughter the caring parent he never had for himself.

Imagine that you have an envelope beneath your chair, containing the name of a child in need and within your reach. He or she is heading back to school now but is at risk of not finishing. There are students like this in every community across the country, just waiting for someone to connect with them.

This school year, we challenge you to find your Nico Rodriguez: Reach out directly to your local school, parent-teacher association or a relevant nonprofit with an offer to volunteer. Go to GradNation.org and use the volunteering tool to identify opportunities within your Zip code, or find out about opportunities as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Day on Sept. 27. Whatever path you choose, know that everybody can do something, starting today.

The young people you help are the promise for a strong, competitive and secure national — and, indeed, global — future. With our support, they can become leaders, teachers, scientists, engineers — and chefs. The question is: Do we have the courage and commitment to reach under our chairs and create that future?

New From Vison Maker Media

by Mike Martz on September 4, 2014

Now Available on DVD:
Our Fires Still Burn
The Native American Experience

The stories shared in Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience are powerful, startling, despairing and inspiring. This exciting and compelling one-hour documentary DVD invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the U.S. Midwest.

Watch the Trailer | Purchase the Educational Version
Buy the Home DVD

How Will You Observe
Columbus Day?

In light of the upcoming Columbus Day, we are puttingColumbus Day Legacy on sale from now until October 13. We hope this will allow more teachers to show this important film in their classes and more people to watch it with friends or family. We also provide a Viewer Discussion Guide to help teachers with their lesson plans and to provide a greater understanding of the topics covered in the film.

Watch the Trailer | Purchase the Educational Version
Buy the Home DVD | Viewer Discussion Guide

Now Available on DVD:
Navajo Film Themselves
(Home Edition)

Sol Worth, John Adair, and Richard Chalfen traveled to Pine Springs, Arizona, in the summer of 1966, where they taught a group of Navajo students to use cameras in the production of documentary films.

Watch the Trailer | Purchase the Educational Version
Buy the Home DVD

American Film Showcase Selects
The Medicine Game & Urban Rez

Congratulations to The Medicine Game and Urban Rez on being included in the America Film Showcase. The America Film Showcase is a major touring film program bringing American documentaries, feature films and animated shorts to audiences worldwide.

The Medicine Game: Two brothers from the Onondaga Nation pursue their dreams of playing lacrosse for Syracuse University. With the dream nearly in reach, the boys are caught in a constant struggle to define their Native identity, live-up to their family’s expectations and balance challenges on and off the reservation.

Buy the Home DVD

Purchase the Educational Version

Urban Rez explores the controversial legacy and modern-day repercussions of the Urban Relocation Program (1952-1973), the greatest voluntary upheaval of Native Americans during the 20th century.

Buy the Home DVD

Purchase the Educational Version

Educational Resources including Lesson Plans

Watch Online

Vision Maker Media Announces 2014-2015 Public Media Content Fund Awards 
Vision Maker Media is pleased to announce support for thirteen new projects for production, new media, and acquisition. Eleven producers and Public Television stations were selected for funding and two for acquisition for their documentaries by and about Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Read More ….

Vision Maker Media Filmmakers Attend the National Native Media Conference
Native Filmmakers at the 2014 National Native Media Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., July 10-13, 2014. Pictured from left to right: Dan Golding (Quechan), Gary Robinson (Choctaw/Cherokee), Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux), Rebekka Schlichting (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska), Princella Parker (Omaha), Georgiana Lee (Navajo), and Pierre Barrera (Klamath/Lakota)
Recently, a group of filmmakers who have just been awarded funds from Vision Maker Media came to Santa Clara, Calif., to attend and present workshops on film production, new media, contracts and more to share knowledge with one another and to help them as they work to produce documentaries for distribution through public television. The workshops took place both before and during the National Native Media Conference (NNMC), which Vision Maker Media co-hosted along with Native Public Media and the Native American Journalist Association.

We asked the people that attended to share their thoughts on the experience. Read their blogs.

See photos from the NNMC on Facebook or Pinterest.

Sovereign Bodies Blog 
by Nikke Alex (Navajo)
We, as Native Peoples, do not have forums to talk about sex, sexuality, healthy relationships and reproductive justice issues, because these topics are taboo in most Native communities.

 

Read More…

 

Video Profile of Amanda Takes War Bonnet
Part of a Series About Reproductive Rights
Amanda Takes War Bonnet (Lakota) is the former managing editor of Indian Country Today, an award-winning weekly national news source for Native Americans in the United States, where she worked for fourteen years. She currently serves as public education specialist for Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains, a coalition of twenty-three organizations from seven states within the northern plains with the mission of ending domestic and sexual violence.
 

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