December 13, 2011

Video response to Children of the Plains

Todd County High Schoolers Respond to ‘Children of the Plains’ With ‘More Than That…’Students from Todd County High School, located on the Rosebud Sioux reservation, have made a video response to a recent television program about youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Titled “Hidden America: Children of the Plains,” the show was a report by 20/20 for which Diane Sawyer visited Pine Ridge and reported inspiring stories of several young people living in dire conditions.

Indian Country’s reaction to the program was mixed—while the reservation has problems that need attention, there was perhaps an element of voyeurism at work, what ICTMN columnist Rob Schmidt called “poverty porn.” Is rez life really as it was portrayed on TV?

The Todd County High School students offer their own answer with this video: “More than that…”
Students respond to ABC's "Children of the Plains"I know many of you saw the Diane Sawyer 20/20 special "Children of the Plains," and I let it pass by without much comment on the blog. I had plenty to say, but I knew a lot of folks from the community, and some of my friends, thought it was great--so I let it go, and didn't think it was really my place to barge in with my super-critical lens on the whole thing.

But some awesome kids from Rosebud, SD put together this short, but powerful video in response to the special, which I love:
Reminded me of this quote from Adam Sings in the Timber: "It often seems as if America has only two frames through which to view its Native culture: ceremony and pageantry or poverty and addiction."

There's a lot of power when we get to represent ourselves.
Native American Youth to Diane Sawyer:  We’re Not Poverty Porn

Comment:  Nice to see so many articles quoting or referring to my column.

I'm not sure anyone else laid into the special with a formal analysis. But that's what I'm here for.

The video mainly consists of kids flashing words of affirmation written on their hands and arms. To me the value isn't in what they did, but just seeing so many kids who look and act normal.

They may have poverty-stricken lives too, but they're not crying about it. They're going to school and making a video to show that they're not victims. That they have a future and plan to achieve it.

For more on the subject, see "White Journalists" on Native America Calling and Children of the Plains Political Cartoon.

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