Wounded Knee: A Line in the Sand is an eyewitness account of the American Indian Movement's 1973 armed occupation of Wounded Knee and an exploration of how the long siege of that historic village changed Indian Country. The feature-length documentary presents the journey of two characters: Willard Carlson, a Yurok Indian fisherman who fought at Wounded Knee, and journalist Kevin McKiernan, the film's non-Indian director, who covered the controversial occupation from the inside.
The 71-day siege at Wounded Knee was the longest public disorder in U.S. history, not counting the Civil War. The dramatic standoff caught the attention of the world. By the time it was over, two Indians were dead, two federal agents and 18 Indians were wounded, and more than 500 arrests had been made.
How Wounded Knee changed history
The occupation galvanized public support for Native Americans. Within just a few years, Congress passed significant pieces of legislation: from the Indian Self-Determination Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act to the groundbreaking American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which gave Native Americans the right to legally conduct spiritual rituals. By 1978, the once-underground Sun Dance on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had gone public and was flourishing (in 2014, more than 50 separate Sun Dances took place on this reservation alone). In California, the Yurok Jump Dance was reinstated on the upper Klamath River in 1984; the sacred White Deerskin Dance followed in the year 2000.
The film comes in the midst of a firestorm of controversy generated by American Indian Mafia, a new book written by the FBI Special Agent-in-Charge of the Wounded Knee siege. The book claims the federal judge who acquitted Indian leaders in the Wounded Knee criminal trials was corrupt and it characterizes AIM leaders as “gangsters,” accusing them of complicity in a series of unsolved homicides. The film evaluates the accusations and whether, if true, they tarnish the 1973 gains at Wounded Knee, an incident some experts regard as a turning point in modern Indian history.
Having covered the controversy for 40 years, McKiernan has a professional stake in ensuring the historical record is accurate. He has strong ties to the Oglala Lakota, who have given him extraordinary access to this story. Unique access to the Yurok tribe has been provided by Willard Carlson, the leading character, whose project has attracted national attention: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/us/yurok-indian-traditions-to-be-revived-in-new-village.html?pagewanted=all
Carlson's involvement at Wounded Knee was followed by his participation in the fishing wars on the Yurok reservation, which helped win the tribe key rights on the Klamath River. The film tells the story of his struggle with addiction, family losses and, finally, his personal redemption.
After shooting some 100 hours of footage over three years, we are anxious to begin post-production. If this Kickstarter is successful, we can complete the film in nine months!
The director's bio is listed above, in the "About You" section.
And now, please meet the other members of the team:
Assistant Producer: Jack Norton
Jack Norton is is an enrolled member of the Yurok tribe and an Emeritus Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. Professor Norton was the first California Indian to be appointed to the Rupert Costo chair in American Indian History at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of several seminal works on Native American history and culture, including Genocide in Northwestern California: When Our Worlds Cried (1979, 1997), A Teacher’s Source Book on Genocide (1998), Natasha Goes to the Brush Dance (2000), Brave from Thunders (2003), and Centering in Two Worlds: Essays on Native Northwestern California History, Culture and Spirituality (2007).
Cinematographer: Haskell Wexler (with McKiernan)
Haskell Wexler, A.S.C., has
photographed a wide range of films that have earned him five Academy Award
nominations and two Oscars for Best Cinematography. As a director, Wexler is
best known for two features, Medium Cool,
a ground breaking film shot during the
Democratic convention in Chicago, and Latino,
shot in Nicaragua, which received a special
honor at the Cannes Film Festival. Both films broke the mold of conventional
storytelling by using the immediacy of documentary-style filmmaking. Wexler has directed over 50
documentaries, rock videos and award-winning commercials, including The Bus, Bus II, and Bus Riders Union,
Introduction to the Enemy (shot in Vietnam), Interview with My Lai Veterans, which also won an Academy Award, No Nukes (with Barbara Kopple), and Target Nicaragua: Inside a Secret War. Wexler helped shoot McKiernan’s Good Kurds, Bad Kurds and his film Bringing King to China. www.haskellwexler.com
Risks and challenges
WHERE WILL YOUR MONEY GO?
Please help us tell the story.
Here are some of the expenses your gift will cover: professional editor, assistant editor, researcher, graphics compositor, music composer to write and perform the original score, studio rental, archival photo and footage costs, colorist, audio mix, on-line costs and E&O insurance (required for broadcast). If this Kickstarter campaign is successful, we will complete the film in nine months.
OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO DATE
Underwritten by grant assistance and our own funds, the film project was launched in early 2012. After shooting 100 hours of footage on three reservations and conducting interviews in five states, we've captured our story and are eager to begin post-production.
WHAT ABOUT THE RISKS?
Our team has an excellent track record in making films about social movements, getting them selected by national and international film festivals, and having them broadcast on television.
WHAT IF WE RAISE MORE THAN $60,000?
As you know, Kickstarter differs from other crowd-sourcing campaigns because of its "all or nothing" challenge. That's good for donors, as it builds confidence that a given project has the budget it needs to succeed--well before anyone's pledge is cashed.
For the filmmakers, it's a big risk.
If we come up just a dollar short of the stated goal of $60,000, we receive nothing--and all the pledges are returned to the donors.
If we exceed our goal (we can dream, right?), we will use whatever is left over to promote wider distribution, including submitting our film to festivals and holding special showings for diverse audiences.
Please reach out with whatever you can afford. Help us cross the finish line!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)