Indigenous Stories Featured in PBS Film Festival – Vote Now!

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown July 22nd, 2016 Last Updated on: July 22nd, 2016

The PBS Online Film Festival is now in its 5th year running from July 11 through July 29. Since its launch in 2012, the PBS Online Film Festival has featured diverse films from PBS member stations, POV and collaborations with public television producers, including the Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), and Vision Maker Media. This year's entries include a couple of stories from Indian Country that I know you're going to enjoy!


Miles Thompson tells the story of growing up in the shadow of three lacrosse star brother and how the struggle of proving the doubters wrong overcoming weight issues pushed him to the top of the lacrosse world. We follow Miles training with his brothers on the Onondaga Nation to playing in his first professional lacrosse game in Minneapolis.

PBS asked Producer Lukas Korver about a particular touching moment that happened during the film:

PBS: During the film, Miles shares a really special moment when the surrounding Native communities meet him before his first professional lacrosse game to show their support. We get to see a glimpse of his reaction, but can you go into detail about what it was like for him to experience that love and support?

LUKAS: I wish I was there for that. It ended up — the Georgia Swarm lacrosse team that he was playing for, they recorded the footage for me. But I have seen similar instances like that happen with Miles. It’s funny, he’s like an ambassador for Native American culture, but he’s also kind of a flag bearer for Native Americans.

A lot of young kids look up to Miles and Lyle and see them at the forefront… they feel a lot of pride and encouragement from seeing how far Miles and Lyle have gone. There are a lot of role models out there but not in the public eye. But here are two guys who are in the mainstream public eye who are also great ambassadors, great role models, so I’m not surprised at all that 30-40 kids will wait a few hours in an airport to cheer this guy on because he means that much to so many people.

To vote for this film, please visit http://www.pbs.org/filmfestival/2016/medicine-game-2-four-brothers-one-dream/


Three miles outside the village of Quinhagak, archaeologists and locals are in a race against time to save thousands of artifacts being carried away by erosion. Dr. Rick Knecht and his team work around the clock to preserve the past for future generations.

PBS sat down with the producers of this film and asked what the film means to the local community and what they hoped future generations would get out of it.

JOHN NORRIS: Getting to see the local community explore some of the artifacts the team found that season was great. Watching elders describe to young kids how certain tools were used really shows how these communities in rural Alaska have strong connections to the past. I think the hope is that the research being done in these communities inspires people to build on those traditions and keep that connectedness to the land as they move forward.

KAYSIE ELLINGSON: I like to think that this film helps to preserve a piece of this community's history. Who knows if next summer that site will still be there. Like Dr. Knecht said, one big storm could completely wipe it out. I'm happy that we were able to go out when we did to capture the boardwalk they uncovered and the different rooms of the house. They're documenting these findings on paper, and preserving the smaller pieces they find, but I don't think or know how they can preserve something like that.

I think Alaska Natives and Native Americans have been historically told by westerners that their history doesn't matter, that their oral history and legends aren't true. But this project has really helped to shatter that idea — this project meaning the excavation, not necessarily the video. One unique thing about this dig was the community aspect. Usually — from what I've read and heard — Native communities really don't like archeologists coming in to dig on their site because it sometimes contradicts local legends and disproves beliefs. In the case of the Nunalleq dig, the archaeologists were completely embraced. This project has actually inspired kids from that village to pursue careers in archaeology, which I thought was a very touching element. And it has actually verified those local legends and provided a lot of insight on how the locals lived at that time.

That's a long-winded non-answer, but basically I'm just honored were given the opportunity to document that process and I hope that it will stand as a video that could educate future generations even after that site is washed away.

To vote for this film, please visit http://www.pbs.org/filmfestival/2016/unearthing-old-village/

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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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