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The Cherokee Word for Water - First Day of Filming's video poster

Fund the first day of filming a feature film about a Cherokee community. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on May 20, 2011.

Fund the first day of filming a feature film about a Cherokee community.

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About this project

What: The Cherokee Word for Water is a feature-length motion picture that tells the story of the work that led Wilma Mankiller to become the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. 

Set in the early 1980s, The Cherokee Word for Water begins in the homes of a small town in rural Oklahoma where many houses lack running water and others are little more than shacks. The movie is told from the perspective of Wilma Mankiller and full-blood Cherokee organizer Charlie Soap who join forces to battle opposition and build a 16-mile waterline system using a community of volunteers. In the process, they inspire the townspeople to trust each other, to trust their way of thinking, and to spark a reawakening of the universal indigenous values of reciprocity and interconnectedness. This project also inspired a self-help movement in Indian Country that continues to this day.

The movie is dedicated to Wilma Mankiller’s vision, compassion and incredible grace.

How: This film will be shot entirely on location in Tahlequah, OK. The project will fund the first day of filming, specifically: cast, production staff, extra talent, set operations, special effects, set dressing, set lighting, camera and production sound.

Why: Even in the 21st Century, the most unbelievable myths and stereotypes about Indian people are perpetuated in the media as well as in popular culture. As Ben Nighthorse Campbell said, "Often media outlets are being unwitting conduits for professional media manipulators representing anti- Indian groups." Indian people and their allies must fight these misperceptions on a number of fronts by using the mass media, tribal governments, writers, teachers, curators, artists and filmmakers to dispel them. This movie is one such effort.


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    9 backers

    Thank you on our website

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    7 backers

    Thank you call from us

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    11 backers

    Above plus “Indian Country” bumper sticker

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    28 backers

    Above plus The Cherokee Word for Water tee shirt

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    Above plus framed photo of Chief Mankiller and Charlie Soap

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    Above plus Cherokee belt buckle or piece of jewelry

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    Above plus memorial copy of "Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women" signed by Charlie Soap who was the photographer for the book

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    Above plus “behind-the-scenes” tour and a part in an extras scene (Transportation to Tahlequah, OK not provided)

Funding period

- (32 days)