Editorial: Film provides true look into reservation community

The following editorial appears in the latest issue of the Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.

Pride and Basketball, a film by Cinnamon Spear.

Pride and Basketball
By Native Sun News Editorial board

Indian country is for the most part the most misrepresented and underrepresented faction of the American populace. Whether it be the hugely popular and widely accepted mutant half human half canine creations in the Twilight series or the sick caricatures that are marketed by the NFL and MLB on a daily basis there is a consistent flow of artistic creations that fail to capture what exactly is Native America.

What is lacking is a real and accurate depiction of a reservation community that is not marred by a political or financial agenda. The recent release of Pride and Basketball by Cinnamon Spear (26), a member of the Northern Cheyenne nation from Lame Deer, Mont. does just that. The film provides viewers with an authentic vision of both the reservation and the sport that in many respects defines Native communities on the northern plains.

Pride and Basketball, is a documentary that highlights the role that basketball plays for the community of Lame Deer, Mont. located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, as told from the perspective of current players, past greats, and community members. Although this is not the first film to talk about basketball on the reservation (Chiefs by Daniel Junge, Off the Rez by Jonathan Hock) it is the first created by a filmmaker born to a reservation that actively engages the community upon which that film is showcasing.

Those of us who are from a reservation community know that basketball is a huge part of many people’s lives and for some it is their life. The sport has become so well engrained into the everyday lives of our communities has played a bigger role in defining how some see themselves than even spirituality or the more negatives aspects of the rez including drugs and alcohol. To have a film that shows the power of the sport told through both the voices of the people and images showing the talent, courage and creativity with which we play the game is to show the world a part of our existence that the general public is hardly ever allowed to access.

For those with the basic knowledge of Native American history or for those teaching classes on contemporary Native American issues the film is a necessary addition. For Native American Studies programs that have relied on films created by non-tribal members or films like Incident at Oglala or the creations of academics who have no significant connection to Indian communities to teach students Pride and Basketball would be a productive teaching tool.

The film does do a wonderful job of showing contemporary life on the Reservation, however where the film lacks is in presenting a historical backdrop for how certain aspects of reservation life came to be. The filmmaker has said publicly that it was her intention to break the mold of visually tying today’s communities and people with the black and white photography of Native people in traditional garb nonetheless it if added it may have helped to power the film.

Overall we would recommend that anyone who has an interest in learning about what a Reservation is and what its community looks like take the time to purchase and watch the DVD. Authentic representations of Natives by communities created by people who were born and raised on them should be the driving force in Native Studies as well as pop culture. This is film is one of many that are being created on all topics in our communities and we here at Native Sun News give the film a big thumbs up.

(The filmmaker can be contacted at her Facebook page where she is selling copies of the film.)

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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