November 02, 2008

Swinomish film on refineries' impact

‘March Point’ to air on PBS

Environmental story documents three Swinomish teens’ journey to adulthoodIn the late 1800s, Samish and Swinomish people lost their homes on March Point to homesteaders; in fact, the boundaries of the Swinomish reservation were changed in 1873 by President Grant to allow for non-Native settlement of the point. Today, the point is the site of two refineries that process crude oil into diesel, gasoline, propane and other fuels for markets within Washington state.

A documentary, “March Point,” questions for the first time the legality of the reservation boundary adjustment and documents the refineries’ environmental impacts. The documentary will be aired on PBS’ “Independent Lens” Nov. 18.

The documentary has been acclaimed as “powerful and poetic.” But equally powerful is the fact that this film was made by three teenagers who were overcoming major obstacles in their lives: Nick Clark, 18, Grand Ronde/Swinomish; Cody Cayou, 18, Swinomish; and Travis Tom, 17, Swinomish/Lummi. All are seniors at La Conner High School.

At the time they took on the project through the Native Lens youth filmmaking program, they had been having trouble in school or had been involved in substance abuse after suffering big losses in their families. Their work on the documentary paralleled their journey from childhood to adulthood; in the process, they came to understand themselves, their culture and the environmental threat to their people.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentary and News.

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