NEH Funding Awarded · Digital Streaming · Tribal Justice Update ··  
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Makepeace Producitons
Makepeace Productions

NEH says YES!

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to announce that Tribal Justice has just been awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Apparently the third time is the charm, as this was my third submission to the Endowment for the film. Three cheers for perseverance! I was happy to learn that they consider the film a great fit for their Common Good initiative.

Editor Russell Greene (The Witness, Newtown) joined the team in June, a very welcome addition. Last week we screened a rough cut for filmmakers and friends, and we are now addressing their comments in the edit room.

New Footage from Tribal Justice

Here’s a new scene with Taos Proctor, filmed one year after Judge Abby succeeded in getting his third strike case transferred to her Tribal Court. 
He begins with an actual fish story.

Tribal Justice Footage

We are hoping to finish the film this year, so stay tuned!

Filmic Convergence
From Alberta to Albuquerque

Meanwhile, Coming to Light, my documentary about photographer Edward S. Curtis, continues to pop up in surprising places. Last March we screened the film at the Palm Springs Art Museum as part of the wonderful Native FilmFest. It was lovely to be in warm weather again, though I ended up spending eight hours a day in my hotel room cutting up Tribal Justice transcripts with awesome story editor and playwright Dorie Baizley.

We did get out for a bit — below on a hike with curator Elizabeth Weatherford and festival director Michael Hammond, and at the sold-out screening of Coming to Light at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Curtis in Canada

In June, I was making plans to attend a beautiful bundle opening ceremony on the Piikani (formerly called Peigan) Reserve in Alberta with my Piikani brother Jerry Potts. I discovered that the Glenbow Museum in Calgary was opening a Curtis exhibit that same weekend, just two hours away. 

At the last minute, we arranged to screen Coming to Light at the Glenbow the night before the ceremony. It was great to see 100 Curtis images artfully displayed in the exhibit, and to show the film to a new audience.

Left: Curtis took this photograph at the 1900 Piikani Sundance.
Right: The same scene filmed for Coming to Light 100 years later.

The next day I drove to the Piikani Reserve for a Thunder Medicine Pipe bundle ceremony, hosted by Jerry and his wife Velma. Jerry is an important part of Coming to Light, opening the film with a description of reviving the Sundance with the help of Curtis photographs.

On the road to Piikani country. At the ceremony with Jerry Potts, and with his mother and sisters.

I have been honored to be invited to this ceremony every year since we filmed Coming to Light. It is a beautiful, very moving day-long prayer and celebration of Piikani culture and community. 
We Still Live Here in Albuquerque

In July, Dorie Baizley led a workshop on story editing, referencing the work we did together cutting up transcripts for We Still Live Here back in 2010. This is what she wrote about the event:

“From New England to New Mexico”
Report from Doris Baizley, story editor, We Still Live Here

A screening and discussion of We Still Live Here made an inspiring start to a two-day documentary story-editing workshop for filmmakers and students in Albuquerque last month. One writer described it as a rare and truthful look at reconciliation: the work it takes and the mutual benefits that can result from it. I was surprised again by the powerful combination of ideas and emotions that made the story resonate with everyone in the room. 
Surprising News from a former child in
Rain in a Dry Land

To my amazement, an email appeared in my inbox a few months ago from Maynun Ahmed, daughter of Arbai Barre Abdi who was featured in Rain in a Dry Land. Maynun was six when we began filming at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2004. Here are some pictures of her current life in Atlanta.

Arbai with young members of her family. Maynun, now 19 years old.
Maynun with her sister Khadija's kids.

And here is some footage of Maynun at age seven, attending her first day of school in America.

Maynun's first day at school

Streaming Now
You can watch Maynun with with her family in Africa and with other Somali Bantu refugees resettling in America in Rain in a Dry Land, streaming here.

Five other Makepeace Productions films are also streaming here, including Coming to Light, We Still Live Here, Baby It’s You, Moonchild, and Whistle in the Wind. Watch and enjoy!

A Viewer's Comment ...
From the recent rough cut screening of 
Tribal Justice

Here’s a note from the invaluable Sabine Bernard, who has been transcribing our massive amounts of footage for two years. This was the first time she had seen it winnowed down to a rough cut:
On my bike ride home, I was thinking more about the film and the stories you followed. I realized that all through my transcribing and listening to the stories of the judges and the communities, this has been a story (for me) about resistance and community resilience. Even though there may be no direct 'opposition' to the tribal courts in the form of the state trying to shut them down, these communities are resisting hundreds of years of invasion and oppression simply by existing. Having their own courts, their own cultures, their own land, and their own voices is an act of self-determination — sometimes that looks like a judge creating a new tribal court system to bring back old ways of administering justice, sometimes it looks like a mom resisting the state to keep her child in her home, and sometimes it looks like someone trying to get off drugs after a traumatic childhood that set them up for addiction. And I think you captured that so well in these stories and characters, really showing the complexities of people and communities beyond simply a pathologize-d issue to be 'fixed.' What a huge task to try to capture and convey all that! 

Thank you Sabine for your insights and for all your hard work!

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.

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