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Documentary Explores Horse Culture of the Nez Perce

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown December 10th, 2014 Last Updated on: December 10th, 2014

National Day of the Horse takes place on December 13, 2014, so what better time to talk about the Horse Tribe documentary from Director/Producer Janet Kern.

The film explores the renaissance of the legendary horse culture of the Nez Perce–with the help of a charismatic Navajo horseman, Rudy Shebala.

Shebala has an exceptional gift of equine expertise, but faces challenges in Idaho–a land far from his traditional Navajo home. His intuitive mentorship also guides at-risk teenagers to develop self-esteem through the strong medicine of horses. With his passion for Native American identity, he brings national attention to Nez Perce horse culture. However, Shebala's personal demons ultimately imperil his accomplishments for the tribe.



Kern originally set out to the Nez Perce to portray children and society flourishing in the company of horses, and the adaption of an ancient equestrian tradition into one with a modern purpose. But as the story evolved over the years, it became more complex. A man was in crisis and a community was in conflict–leaving their beloved herd to an uncertain fate.

Horse Tribe
is an epic story about the connection of human to animal, history to life, individuals to community, grief to resolve, and values to action. Through her own experience, Kern recounts, “The inexplicably generous instincts of a people who have experienced incomprehensible loss are a lesson, a mystery, and a gift to me and to everyone they touch.”


Horse Tribe
has shown on several PBS stations around the U.S. this November. It currently has a scheduled airing for the Carbondale, Illinois area on December 14th. If you'd like to get more information on the film, check out http://horsetribethefilm.com/. DVDs should soon be available for purchase.


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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.



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Jeffrey McKimson

I saw this documentary. It is very good. Sad at the end but well put together.

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