What’s in the Heart – A documentary film about the alarming health crisis among Native Americans, created in large part by the US government's failed promises and inaction, yet curable largely because of the committed American Indians who are working tirelessly to bring about change.
Did you know that American Indians are dying because of underfunded medical clinics, historical trauma and diseases that disproportionately afflict their communities? Despite the US government’s legal responsibility to provide American Indian tribes with health care and adequately staffed health facilities, American Indians suffer from the worst health disparities of all other Americans. Teens are taking their own lives in alarming numbers because of the lack of basic mental health services and the despair of poverty and racism.
What's in the Heart examines the history and reasons for this alarming crisis. The film exposes the historical trauma suffered by American Indians, and also celebrates their triumph of culture, tradition and resiliency in the face of ongoing betrayal by the US government. The Indian Health Services is significantly underfunded, which in turn means there is no money spent on programs for prevention and public health; instead, expenditures often provide late term treatment like dialysis, amputations, etc. Despite the crisis, largely because of remarkable American Indians who are devoting their lives to healing their communities, there is hope for the future and there are several creative approaches being implemented to develop solutions.
What’s in the Heart will educate the public as to why American Indians have such startling health problems, and will feature the remarkable people working to bring about solutions that are highly-effective in healing individuals, the community, as well as providing hope for the future.
Donations are tax deductible to the film’s fiscal sponsor, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, formerly the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board.
5% will go to GPTCHB and the balance will fund the film
(please note: all donations are to be made through Indie Go Go. The health board will receive their 5% at the end of the campaign.)HOW YOU CAN HELP:
PHASE ONE: We need to produce a a 20-minute trailer in order to apply for funding from ITVS, the funding arm of PBS and Native American Public TV (PBS.) We have obtained a “letter of support” from the Phoenix/PBS station stating their strong belief in our film, and the desire to partner with us on the upcoming ITVS/LINCS/PBS grant.
The Longer Story:
The suffering occurring amongst many American Indians is due to losses sustained through colonialization efforts and the resulting historical trauma resulting from enduring centuries of prejudice and injustices. For tribes like the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), tribal members endured the loss of sacred lands, being displaced onto reservations, and were forcibly removed to attend government-run boarding schools. We will capture an understanding of how the trauma suffered from these losses has been passed down through the generations, and how this has had an actual PTSD/physiological effect on their health.
Leonard Little Finger, Lakota, great-great grandson of Chief Big Foot, will describe how his great grandfather at age 14 escaped the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 with two wounds, having watched his entire family murdered. Despite his observations, he nonetheless held firm to his Lakota values and practiced genuine forgiveness towards the white people who had murdered his mother, father, siblings and entire village. This story illustrates the parallels between the massacre that murdered 290 Lakota people, and the modern prison-like living known today as reservation-life, rife with poverty and medical disparities.
Programs like the Healthy Start Prenatal Program helps young Indian mothers to remember that their children are sacred, and to learn the importance of creating a loving, safe environment for their baby as it grows. Infant mortality for Indian people is the highest in the country and Healthy Start is saving babies and mothers’ lives.
Another program, the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (www.niylp.org), helps young Native youth to learn through experiential and service learning. They are taught a healthy lifestyle based on traditional Native values, as opposed to the gangs and violence that are emerging in their desperate communities.
America needs to face its past and help to create a better future for American Indians. We can all learn valuable lessons from the exploration of Lakota values, culture and traditions.
Wopila - Lakota for thank you!
The What's in the Heart creative team -
Kitty Farmer, Producer has been a literary and lecture agent, placing books on the NY Times bestseller list, and selling one to Oliver Stone that was the basis for the film, JFK.
Dustinn Craig, White Mountain Apache, Director, wrote, produced and directed the highly acclaimed, Geronimo, for the PBS-series, WE SHALL REMAIN. He's a recipient of the 2005 Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship and also a Documentary Fellow of the 2005 Sundance Film Native Institute. He also produced the final episode in the PBS series, a personal documentary in the highly acclaimed series Matters of Race.
Erin Harvey, Director of Photography, has shot 2 award-winning PBS documentaries, Harold Hitchcock: Life in Light and Ramadhan in Indonesia, each won the coveted Golden Cine Eagle Award. He was the DP on the PBS film, The President’s Photographer.