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RECLAIMING Their VOICE: The Native American Vote in New Mexico & Beyond

 

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Making of

While I was making the film STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote, one of the stories I followed was about irregularities in New Mexico during the 2004 Presidential election. The final tallies in New Mexico were controversial. Complaints ranged from people voting for "Kerry" and seeing "Bush" appear on the touch screens, to huge discrepancies between how many people voted and how many votes were tallied. In addition, people in New Mexico reported ongoing disenfranchisement of Native American voters, with those problems reaching a crescendo in the 2004 Presidential election.

Voting rights advocates suggested I introduce myself to the Laguna tribe. Their story encapsulated some of the most egregious examples of voting problems in New Mexico, as well as across the country in 2004.

I followed the Laguna story through 2010, weaving together the problems they'd faced with growing activism among tribal members.

While documenting that story, I learned about another group of Native people who had, in recent years, fought to preserve the Sacred Petroglyphs in Albuquerque. They tried to use voting to further their cause, but that effort met with various difficulties. I decided to put these two stories together.  Juxtaposed, they reveal multiple facets of both disenfranchisement and mushrooming activism among Native People.

Resources

Native Vote: A national non-partisan effort to mobilize the American Indian and Alaska Native vote, is an initiative of NCAI.
United Native America: Information for getting out the Native American vote.
Voting Rights Act Timeline
Providing Electoral Information to Native Americans in
New Mexico

The Department of Justice (about Native Americans)
Voting Rights in Indian Country
How did the Native Americans finally acquire citizenship?
Study Guide: Voter Action Guide






Synopsis

Native people around the world are stepping forward and speaking out against injustice. RECLAIMING Their VOICE: The Native American Vote in New Mexico & Beyond begins by documenting the American Indian suffrage movement historically. The film then follows two groundbreaking projects in New Mexico. One focuses on the creation of the Native American Voters Alliance and their efforts to protect Sacred Land.  The other is a call to increase voter participation, led by members of the Laguna, NM Native Pueblo. Viewers can see how Laguna’s Voter 500 Project leads to changes in New Mexico state election law. Both stories serve as models for how disenfranchised minority populations can work together to have an impact as these groups in New Mexico are taking action through the political process. Their work reflects a microcosm of growing awareness among minority populations taking root across the United States.  Personal stories demonstrate how American Indian communities are participating more fully in decisions that will affect their lives.

Credits

Director: Dorothy Fadiman
Principal videographer: Matthew Luotto
Editors: Xuan Vu, Matthew Luotto, Ekta Bansal Barghava
Associate Producers: Justine Strayhorn, Xuan Vu
Narration: Peter Coyote

Transcription

Full script for RECLAIMING Their VOICE - pdf or Word doc

Online Presskit

Reclaiming Press Kit Homepage
Film Clips
Still images
Past screenings
Production bios

Reviews

“... both heartbreaking and eye opening. A 'must see' to understand how fragile our democracy is”
NANCY STAPP
KVOT Taos, NM

“Emotions run deep when viewing this insightful political documentary. The story blends sincere efforts to achieve political clout with unfortunate results that, somehow, do not shut down the hopes of Native voters in New Mexico.”
ROBIN H. LEVIN
Fort Washakie School/Community Librarian, Wyoming

“This film weaves together two documentary stories: each drama moves from disenfranchisement to realization to taking action. Interviews include people from Laguna, Acoma, Taos, Ohkay Owingeh, the Navajo nation.plus Chicano/a voices and more. The story is woven artistically and succinctly-in less than one hour.”
MARY OISHI
KUNM-TV Albuquerque, New Mexico


Quotes from audience members in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos & Las Vegas, New Mexico

ABOUT the WAY the FILM was CREATED

“The historical information was well presented and essential
to understanding the current issues.”

“The narrator didn't have to say much, the people told the story in
their own words!”

“Loved the beautiful pots as touch points.”

“Everything was so local, so pertinent.”

“I really liked the use of the Eagle to show strength, wisdom, and leadership.”

“The whole film was beautifully done and integrated... the art, the music,
the Eagle dancers.”

“A finely executed documentary of hope in action.”

“Just the right balance of spiritual and secular aspects of the issues.”

“It was a moving work of art.”


About the MESSAGE and the CONTENT

“This video was truthful.”

“Very informative film! Especially for the younger generations who need
to be made aware of this information.”

“Thank you for making this film, giving Native Americans a voice to express our issues on voting.”

“Even as an active voter, I found the political aspect of this film eye opening.”

“The trials and tribulations of the Laguna Pueblo were very moving.”

“Showed the importance of being responsibly informed relative to voting issues.”

“Evidence of restricted voter access is tragic.”

“Moving, factual & revealing.”


ABOUT the SPIRIT of the PRESENTATION

“Watching communities pull together to work for an important goal is truly inspiring.”

“Loved seeing so many people's willingness to challenge the system.”

“Showing young people performing civic activities demonstrates the power of cohesion.”

“I saw how a new generation will be more empowered.”

“The fact that there were so many discrepancies encourages me to want
to help in my community.”

“I appreciated seeing the faces of tribal people being empowered.”

“As an Anglo, this film allowed me to feel outraged!!!”

“I am not of a Pueblo tribe, but of the Navajo tribe, and we have similar issues as well.”

“The issues in this wonderful film goes far beyond Native Americans... but also Hispanics and black people and women all learning to reclaim their power.”