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A grassroots community documentary explores issues of groundwater pollution in the area of the Yakama Nation in Central Washington.

Many people living on the Yakama Indian Reservation in the Lower Yakima Valley are drinking contaminated water without knowing it.  Reports from the Environmental Protection Agency have pointed to local dairy farms as the most likely source of the groundwater pollution due to improper application of manure. Through the production of a documentary, we wish to foster awareness of the issue and encourage people in the area to test their water.

“None of the environmental laws are being enforced. They can only be enforced through lawsuits,” said Jan Whitefoot, a reluctant activist and resident of the Yakama Indian Reservation.  “There are over 300,000 cows in the Lower Yakima Valley.  That’s more cows than people,” said Whitefoot.

Walla Walla University's Fundraising Class stand with Jan Whitefoot (artist and community organizer) and Anita Ike (member of the Yakama Nation).
Walla Walla University's Fundraising Class stand with Jan Whitefoot (artist and community organizer) and Anita Ike (member of the Yakama Nation).

Our group met with Whitefoot and Anita Ike, a member of the tribe. From them we learned about the problems facing the people living on the Yakama Reservation. Many people have fallen ill from the water. Ike’s family doesn’t drink their own tap water, but instead buys bottled water. According to Whitefoot and Ike, Yakima Valley has the highest rate of asthma and diarrhea in the state.  In addition to water being polluted, the air is also being polluted with cow manure. We want to foster an awareness of polluted well issues and the need for well water testing. Residents living near feed lots and dairies on the reservation need to know if their water is safe to drink.

Rewards

Among the rewards for donations made to Yakama Clean Waters are limited edition prints and original wood mixed-media pieces, created by Yakama Reservation resident, Jan Whitefoot. Whitefoot is the community coordinator for the documentary project, and these rewards are representative of the rich culture of the Yakama Nations that this documentary seeks to protect.

Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Wood mixed-media art piece titled "She Who Watches." By Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).
Wood mixed-media art piece titled "She Who Watches." By Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).

Note: All U.S. donations are tax deductible.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The issue of groundwater pollution in the Lower Yakima Valley is complex with a variety of issues including the environment, economy, and politics. The dairy operations run ads regularly in local media describing the safety of their operations. Some people blame improperly sealed wells and cross contamination from septic systems as the primary problem. The EPA has refuted the claims against wells and cross contamination, finding that a very low percentage of wells are not sealed properly. We maintain that the production of nitrates from too many cows in one place is the real problem. For documents on the EPA's case see: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/water.nsf/gwpu/lyakimagw.

Community members that we work with may not have produced films before but we do have experienced team members. Jerry Hartman (Walla Walla University Associate Professor in Film, TV, and Culture) has experience producing award winning community directed films. http://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/news/article/view/professors-project-picked-up-by-smithsonian/. We will meet with residents and give them camera gear and instruction on how to record their stories. We will provide them with simple video gear and software. We will coach them on the use of the equipment and how to tell their story effectively.

Knowing what the risks and challenges are, we are committed to make this project work so that this issue can be explored. We will assure a community focus by allowing residents living near the concentrated animal feeding operations to tell their own story of how their lives are being impacted by the large-scale dairy operations in their communities.

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    4 backers Limited (96 left of 100)

    Sports Bracelet with the slogan "Yakama Clean Waters."

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    Stainless Steel Water Bottle with the slogan "Yakama Clean Waters."

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    Bluray or DVD of the finished documentary film produced by the community. This will also have bonus material created by the Walla Walla University documentary class.

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    DVD or Bluray plus limited edition print by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).

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    DVD or Bluray plus Wood mixed-media art piece titled "She Who Watches" by Jan Whitefoot (community organizer of documentary project).

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    Receive your name in the credits of the film, and reserve front row seats for the premiere public screening in Toppenish, WA.

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    All previous awards (except for the $500 level), and a dessert reception with Walla Walla University and community film producers.

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Funding period

- (23 days)