WHAT WAS OURS
DIRECTOR: Mat Hames
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE • 76m • USA
NOMINATED for BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
A young Arapaho journalist and a teenage powwow princess travel from the Wind River Indian Reservation with a wise Shoshone elder to explore vanished artifacts kept in the archives of a museum. The three uncover ancestral objects kept in boxes for many years, setting each on a journey to recover their vanished objects, while discovering their true purpose. As the elder looks to the future, the young people look to the past to revive hope for their beloved home.
WRESTLING ALLIGATORS: THE NEW SEMINOLE WARS
DIRECTOR: Andrew Shea
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE • 90m • USA
The greatest change to happen to Native Americans in the last 50 years is the creation of legalized gaming on Indian reservations, a revolution that has made self-reliance a reality for many tribes. James E. Billie, the man responsible for this revolution, born an outcast in the Florida swamps, is an alligator wrestler, warrior, poet, and leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He took his people from welfare subsistence at the mercy of the federal government to being wealthy beyond their wildest imaginings. Controversial both inside and outside his tribe, James Billie has used his charm and wits to beat the white man, time and again, at their own game. Now, faced with new battles, James and his tribe once again find their way of life challenged.
THE GOOD MIND
DIRECTORS: Gwendolen Cates
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE • 66m • USA
Rarely has the Onondaga Nation in central New York State opened its doors to non-Native people. Filmmaker Gwendolen Cates offers this intimate portrait of an indigenous sovereign nation that never accepted U.S. citizenship, has its own passport, and still maintains a traditional government led by clanmothers and chiefs. As the Central Fire of the Iroquois Confederacy, one of the world’s first true democracies, they inspired the Founding Fathers. The film’s journey reveals the Nation’s tireless environmental advocacy, and their legal battle with the U.S. over ancestral land taken by New York State in violation of a 1794 treaty with George Washington. Motivated by ancient prophecies, the Nation seeks environmental stewardship of their sacred land and waters, which have suffered vast degradation by industrial resource extraction and pollution. The film follows Onondaga leaders and young people, and their longtime advocate, a civil rights attorney, from the Nation to NYC, DC and Europe, as they fight for justice.