The Crow Reservation Video Project
The Crow Reservation Video Project
A portrait, done from life, of the Crow Indian reservation in Montana.
A portrait, done from life, of the Crow Indian reservation in Montana. Read more
When a door swings unexpectedly in front of you, you're a fool if you don't step through it.
Two summers ago I was invited to the Apsaalooka (Crow) Indian reservation in Montana. The day before I flew home I was given the Crow name Hillegyo Maakuuxshiibiish. It means "One who comes from far away to help." That’s a name to live up to, and this video is a way of doing just that. I have begun the project on my own, but I’m going to need some help to get it finished so it can do its work. (You can see a short cut of footage from that work at www.seankernan.com, on the Crow Project page.)
On my first day of shooting, someone in the tribe asked, “What do you want to say with this?”
I thought for a moment, then said, “I don’t want to say anything, I want to listen.”
So this video comes from listening. The form is a braid of short sequences—sometimes a story, sometimes just a sentence, sometimes silence—that lets each viewer weave their own a narrative of fact, feeling, and vision about these original inhabitants as they stand in the present facing the future.
Here are a few things the video might do:
-Give direct knowledge of a part of American history and its living consequences.
-Give some understanding of the how American mainstream culture is different from, and similar to, that of the original inhabitants.
-Make a connection to our own best and most empathetic natures.
-Raise understanding and the possibility for action.
I have carried all the costs so far and done all of the work, but I am far from finished. What remains is as follows:
- Two more shooting trips of 8-10 days, in the winter or spring, and also next summer. (I have made three trips so far).
- Between shooting trips I am reviewing footage, identifying the clips that are strongest—most trenchant, evocative, energetic— and editing an ongoing rough cut.
- Final editing: I’ll find the right edit, then engage a professional editor to polish it and bring all of the technical aspects (sound, color correction, etc. ) to a professional level.
Now, as for how the film reaches into the world, I am working in concert with the Centerpole, an organization on the reservation, and we are investigating ways of getting this video before the public. Distribution possibilities include its use by the Centerpole, sales at their headquarters and on its website, placement in interested museums, showings at film festivals, as well as full utilization of social media such as Facebook, Youtube, etc. I would also do showings for churches, schools, libraries and other interested groups. (I probably don’t need to point out that this film will never make money through any usual commercial arrangement. But it will do its work and bring value in other ways.)
Some projected expenses: Each shooting trip has cost about $2800 out of pocket ( three so far) and for the next two I will need to rent a particular camera for one trip at a cost of about $1800. I'll be doing some aerial shooting (thanks to www.Lighthawks.org), and so will need to rent a stabilizer, and finally I'll need to engage an editor to wrap things up.
In the end the value of this project can’t be monetized. As Lewis Hyde reminds us in his book "The Gift", the most important things that we pass around the human community, the very things that define us and make us who we are, simply can’t be measured by their cost. Even to try destroys their value.
Like that door that swings open unexpectedly, this project is an invitation to all who would support it and grow from it.
- (30 days)