Earth Day: Largest Civic Observance in the World

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, mobilized 20 million Americans from all walks of life. Their actions led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Today, over one billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Eight key films chronicle the stories of Native Americans who take action to increase awareness of environmental concerns that affect their families and communities. Use these films to engage your classroom or your community and to learn more about what others are doing to promote a better understanding of what it means to protect Mother Earth.
Growing a Sustainable Crop
Standing Silent Nation
57 minutes
Just this week, after more than 11 years, the U.S. District Court of South Dakota overturned a DEA injunction against Alex White Plume and his brother (Percy) that prohibited him from growing hemp.

In the film Standing Silent Nation, this Lakota family tries to make a living off the land in a non-traditional way. The White Plume family tests their sovereign rights by tapping into the booming hemp product business.

When the Oglala Sioux Tribe passed an ordinance separating industrial hemp from its illegal cousin, marijuana, Alex and his family glimpsed a brighter future. Having researched hemp as a sustainable crop that would grow in the inhospitable soil of the South Dakota Badlands, the White Plumes envisioned a new economy that would impact the 85 percent unemployment rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They never dreamed they would find themselves swept up in a struggle over tribal sovereignty, economic rights and common sense.

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Impact on Drinking Water
Crying Earth Rise Up
57 minutes
"Water is our first home. Water is our first medicine. Without water, there is no life." -Debra White Plume (Oglala Lakota), Activist

A Lakota mother studying geology seeks the source of the water contamination that may have caused her daughter's critical health problems. Meanwhile, a Lakota grandmother fights the regional expansion of uranium mining. Crying Earth Rise Up exposes the cost of uranium mining and its impact on Great Plains drinking water.

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Oil Refinery Threat
March Point
57 minutes
A coming of age story, March Point follows the journey of three teens from the Swinomish Tribe who have been asked to make a film about the threat their people face from two local oil refineries.

In the late 1950s, two refineries were built on March Point, an area that was once part of the Swinomish reservation by treaty. This is the story of the boys' awakening to the destruction these refineries have wrought in their communities. Ambivalent environmental ambassadors at the onset, the boys grapple with their assignment through humor, sarcasm and a candid self-knowledge. But as their filmmaking evolves, they experience the need to understand and tell their stories, and they realize the power of this process to change their lives.

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Alternative Power Sources
Power Paths
57 minutes

An exploration of energy through the eyes of Native Americans as they reveal their quest to tap wind, solar, biomass and other power sources for their communities and cities across the country.

Power Paths follows grassroots efforts among the Navajo, Hopi and Lakota as they explore ways to create the new renewable energy resources needed to preserve their communities. By revealing the struggle Indian leaders face harnessing abundant natural forces of wind and sun on millions of acres of tribal lands, Power Paths tells a much larger human story about America's struggle to understand, accept and implement a new path toward true energy security.

The inspiring stories in this film vividly illustrate our potential for success in producing the power we need while preserving our planet's livability. Telling these stories through the eyes of America's Tribes exposes fundamental truths that will change the way we look at energy forever.

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Impact on Tribal Fishing
River of Renewal
57 minutes
River of Renewal chronicles the ongoing battle over the resources of Northern California's and Oregon's Klamath Basin. The film reveals how different dominant groups over the generations have extracted resources from the Klamath Basin with disastrous consequences, including the collapse of wild salmon populations.
Jack Kohler (Karuk/Yurok/Hoopa) returns to his tribe to discover how politics and economics have impacted tribal fishing and the environment after industry changes the Klamath River's ecosystem.
This film shows the collision between sustainability and exploitation of our precious and diminishing resources. The outcome may be the largest dam removal project in history and the restoration of a once vital river. 
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Surviving Catastrophic Change
57 minutes
Waterbuster tells a personal story of how a multimillion dollar project displaced the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation in North Dakota. Producer J. Carlos Peinado returns to the Fort Berthold Reservation and discovers stories of the past as he assesses tribal identity. 

Through interviews and archival footage, a uniquely Native American perspective emerges, giving light to a portrait of resilience and survival in the face of catastrophic change.
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Envirionmental Justice
Yellow Fever
57 minutes
Tina Garnanez, a young Navajo veteran, goes on a personal investigation into the history of the Navajo uranium boom, examining its lasting impacts and the potential for new mining in the area. 

In Yellow Fever, Tina looks at the cost of cheap energy and the future of the industry, and she becomes an advocate, lobbyist and a vocal proponent for environmental justice.
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Now Available from The Video Project
Walking in Two Worlds
70 minutes
Just in time for Earth Day, Walking in Two Worlds tells a story of division and redemption and demonstrates the possibility of healing both the forest and the Native community. This film is now available for educational licensing through

Watch how worlds collide in the Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest on earth, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) turns tribes into corporations and sparks a lengthy logging frenzy.

Walking in Two Worlds journeys to the Tongass to reveal its splendor and shed light on the devastation and division resulting from the Settlement Act. The Tongass is rich with old-growth trees, salmon-filled rivers and wildlife. Alaska's Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes have depended on this forest for their culture and survival.
Student Film Festival
Open to K-12 Students
This year's theme for the American Film Institute's (AFI) White House Student Film Festival, to be held in late summer 2016, will be "The World I Want To Live In." Participant Media, a global entertainment company focused on inspiring social change, joins AFI in support of their work with young filmmakers of the White House Student Film Festival for a second year. Young storytellers are encouraged to submit their short films based on the theme: WhiteHouse.Gov/FilmFest
Filmmaker Training Available in California, June 8-9
The 2016 Vision Maker Media filmmaker training will be held June 8-9 in Oakland, California. The event is a pre-conference workshop to ALLIANCE 2016, hosted by the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC). Filmmakers who want to attend the Vision Maker Media Filmmaker Training can register for $200
per person. 

This training is designed for project teams funded by Vision Maker Media, but anyone is welcome to attend. With major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), we are the premiere distributor of work by and about American Indians and Alaska Natives to Public Broadcasting. 

Contact Georgiana Lee for details:       REGISTER
Thank You to Our Sponsor
Vision Maker Media Receives Major Funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

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