Cody Nick and Travis, three teens from the Swinomish Indian Tribe, wanted to make a gangster movie or rap video. But instead they were asked to investigate the impact of two oil refineries on their tribal community. March Point follows their journey as they come to understand themselves, the environment and the threat their people face.
For centuries the Swinomish Indian Tribe has relied on the natural resources of the Skagit Valley, through clamming, crabbing, and fishing. Before white settlement tribal people inhabited the valleys, rivers, and shorelines, living off the rich land. But in 1855 most of this land was taken away by the Federal government in the Treaty of Point Elliott. The Swinomish people were left with basic health care, some fishing rights and a small reservation. In the late 1950s, two oil refineries were built on March Point, an area that was once part of the Swinomish reservation by treaty. Over time, the presence of the refineries has negatively affected the health of the water and land and the very fabric of cultural tradition itself. March Point is the story of three boys awakening to the destruction these refineries have wrought in their communities. Ambivalent environmental ambassadors at the onset, the boys grapple with their assignment through humor, sarcasm and a candid self-knowledge.
ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION
In 2005, media advocacy groups, including Native Americans in Television and Film, announced their annual evaluations of indigenous presence in American media. Native Americans were almost invisible yet again, with the exception of a few limited stereotypes. Native actor Michael Horse elucidates:
â€œNative Americans are usually portrayed as violent, drunk or the all- knowing sage. We are not seen as doctors, lawyers or businessmen. The message this sends to Native American children is that there is no place for us in modern society, that we are an antiquated culture.â€
We founded Longhouse Media in January 2005 to address this critical problem. We wanted to help catalyze indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation and social change. Our primary program, Native Lens, brings digital media training to Native youth in rural and urban settings. Native Lensâ€™s youth-produced films have yielded strong and positive new media, increased participantsâ€™ self-esteem, worked as a catalyst for community interaction and dialogue, and supported youth in the development of life skills and academic success in school.
WHY WE MADE MARCH POINT
Addressing the topic of biotoxins is not a particularly thrilling project for 15-year-old boys, but Nick, Cody and Travis, three of our youth participants were interested in learning how to make films as a substitute for their mandated drug treatment program. They thought working on a Native Lens project would help them stay out of trouble and stick together. We decided to film a piece about the two oil refineries located on March Point.
MARCH POINT weaves the boysâ€™ stories together with the documentary they are making, resulting in a parallel awakening. As the boys uncover the detrimental impact of the refineries on the health of their tribe and discover the land dispute issue, they begin to see themselves as storytellers and leaders in their community. What happened exceeded anything we could have imagined.
Although they were unable to resolve the environmental and land issues they uncovered, the process of filmmaking, inquiring and defending their tribe had a life-changing effect on them. Ultimately, it is their unique voice that separates this film from others that have dealt with similar issues.
It was an honor to work on this collaborative and community-based project. We believe in the power of MARCH POINT, as told by its young storytellers, to educate, inspire and transform.
Tracy Rector and Annie Silverstein, March Point Filmmakers
Film & Crew
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Northwest Film Forum
Shell Oil Refinery
Skagit Valley Herald
Skagit County Historical Museum
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Senate
Holly Taylor & William
Funding provided by
Native American Public Telecommunications
The Stuart Foundation
The Environmental Protection Agency
EPA STAR grant #R-829-467-01: Nigel Fields and Montira Pongrisi
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
The Gates Foundation
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
The Potlatch Fund
National Geographic All Roads Film Project
Ray Parman Jr.
Skokomish Tribal Nation
Squaxin Island Tribe
Executive Producer for NAPT
This program was produced by LONGHOUSE MEDIA. Which is solely responsible for its content.
2008 Longhouse Media ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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