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Makepeace Producitons
Makepeace Productions

Dear Friends,

It has been a beautiful fall here in New England, with the trees glowing red and gold, the air crisp and cool. As we head into winter, I’m remembering what Hopi friends once told me about their Basket Dance, a ceremony held in November when the women of the Basket Society throw gifts to the crowd in the plaza. These gifts can be anything from beautiful baskets to Tupperware. It’s a time to throw away all bad thoughts and resentments, and prepare to go inside for the winter with clean hearts.

Makepeace Productions


November is also a time to honor the first people of this country, and to celebrate the resilience and diversity of the many Native American tribes and communities and individuals still very much among us.

Indian Kids Now and Then

Native American Children

We Still Live HereI have been fortunate to have worked with several Native American communities on films about cultural persistence and revival. As you may know, We Still Live Here tells the story of the return of the Wampanoag language, which had disappeared in the 19th century. The people I worked with are descended from the Wampanoags who saved the Pilgrims from starvation nearly 400 years ago, and lived to regret it. At a time of relative harmony, the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims feasted together on what is now called the first Thanksgiving.

Coming to LightFor Coming to Light, my film about photographer Edward S. Curtis, I traveled to reservations throughout the west, finding descendants of people he photographed, hearing their stories, recording their thoughts about the pictures, and filming their lives today. I even found people on Nunivak Island whom Curtis had photographed as children on his last photographic expedition for The North American Indian, including Joe Moses, the baby in the photograph above.

Hopi Boy
Coming to Light also celebrates the resilience and diversity of Indian communities photographed by Curtis a century ago. He believed that Native American cultures were disappearing, as did most Americans then, and that there was only a short time left in which to capture “the beautiful in Indian life.” At that time, most Native Americans had been forced onto reservations, dispossessed of their lands, their ceremonies banned, their children taken and placed in harsh boarding schools meant to “kill the Indian” in them.

Medicine ManMany tribes kept their ceremonies alive underground.  The U.S. government banned the Sundance in 1899, but a number of Plains tribes continued to hold Sundances under the guise of July 4th celebrations. In recent years, many Native people have used Curtis photographs to revive their ceremonies.  Jerry Potts, who carves pipes in Coming to Light, studied this Peigan pipemaker for his designs. A Navajo medicine man expresses gratitude that he can see his ancestors’ designs in Curtis’s hand colored photographs of sand paintings.

Curtis Photographs slide show

Santa Barbara Screening of Coming to LightComing to Light is having a bit of a revival itself, with screenings in Cincinnati, Steamboat Springs, Bend OR, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs. I am very excited about the November 11th screening in Santa Barbara, as I was living there when I made the film. The Museum of Natural History, where the film will be shown in conjunction with a wonderful Curtis exhibit, generously allowed me to film hundreds of original photogravures for Coming to Light. It will be great to bring the film home again! I hope to see many of my longtime Santa Barbara friends there.

Curtis photos courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art, which is now mounting exhibitions across the country including “Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks,” with many more events leading up to and after the 2018 sesquicentennial of Curtis’s birth.


Meanwhile, I’m working away on my current project, Tribal Justice, a documentary about tribal courts in California, yet another story of Native cultural revival. The judges featured in the film are reaching back to their own traditions of justice to heal rather than incarcerate tribal members. They are demonstrating restorative justice in action.

You can watch a brand new ten minute trailer of Tribal Justice below:

Tribal Justice - 10 minute

We have finished principal photography, though we need to produce a few more shoots to wrap up the stories we have been following.  We’re actively looking for finishing funds, so please forward the trailer link to anyone who might be able to help. Thank you for watching and for spreading the word.


I’m thrilled to announce that Coming to Light, We Still Live Here and four other films I have made over the years are now available for streaming. With just a click, you can watch the unfolding revival of a long silent language in We Still Live Here, or travel thousands of miles to Indian communities across the west in Coming to Light.


You can also experience the journey of refugee families resettling in the U.S. in Rain in a Dry Land, or my own journey through the strange world of fertility clinics in my very personal doumentary Baby It’s You. Travel to the mountains of South America in Whistle in the Wind, a short tale of a Bolivian boy and his llama, or explore the interior life of a young man as he enters the scary world of the Moonie cult in my first film, Moonchild.


Click on any of the images above to stream these films instantly. You can also buy them in bundles, and/or give them as gifts to others.

Comments about a Recent University Screening of

The screening was wonderful! People loved the film (me included) and appreciated the story and the beautiful animation that gave it such emotional resonance. Here are some of the follow up comments from people (paraphrased by me):

“Thank you for bringing this film here and for your work. This kind of teaching dispels the ‘mythical Indian’ idea so many people have. We’re out here! We’re doing things!”

Many faculty expressed how impressed they were with how much content was packed into one hour. They found the film enriching from a historical/linguistic standpoint but also when viewed through a social justice lens.

Students were very curious – what’s happening now? What’s going on with the charter school? Linda [Coombs] spoke some on that and also directed them to the film’s website and the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project website (

This screening/talk was part of our year-long series on global activism, and it tied in nicely. It helped us to reflect that activism isn’t always about protests and putting oneself in danger. It is also about this kind of quietly fierce work of reclamation and connection to ancestry.

— Katie Umans, University of New Hampshire
We Still Live Here Screens Again at UNH
We Still Live Here will be shown at the University of New Hampshire on November 6th at the Indigenous Coast to Coast Film Festival.

INDI film festival

Our Mother Tongues

Can you guess which icon below goes with which tribe on the Our Mother Tongues website? Click to find out!

Check out great photos, watch Videos and learn about many Native American languages from Alaska to North Carolina, Oklahoma to New York, Montana to Massachusetts. There is even an Interactive Map, a Voices page where you can listen to thirteen different Native tongues, a Blog, and a fun feature called ePostcards offering an entertaining way to connect with friends and family by sending audio greetings in a
Native American language.

Please visit

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