March 03, 2010

The Ghost Riders

Here's the film that's headlining Red Nation's Red Is Green benefit for struggling reservations:

The Ghost RidersDirector: V. Blackhawk Aamodt
70 Minutes

This critically acclaimed documentary takes you on a journey unlike most so-called Native American docs. Filmed by award winning Native director V. Blackhawk Aamodt, The Ghost Riders is a spiritual journey into the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Ghost Riders opens up a door to the past, present and future of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one of the poorest and harshest areas in the United States, and the people who struggle to survive there.

But surviving is not enough for the proud people whose blood lines go back to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Bringing the old ways back and fighting the diseases brought by the new settlers (diabetes, alcoholism and drug abuse) is the new war cry.

In 1890 the United States Army massacred over 300 unharmed Lakota Indians, most of who were woman, children and elders, the massacre was said to have broken the sacred hoop. It was then after this tragedy that the holy man Black Elk proclaimed the people would mourn for 7 generations and that the children of the seventh generation would be the ones to mend the sacred hoop and begin the healing.

So as it was prophesied, the seventh generation has risen to fight back against these diseases and hardships to bring back the culture and honor their ancestors. The Ghost Riders follows the organizers and riders as they embark on a 300-mile spiritual journey on horseback to honor themselves and the tribe.

The ride is known as The Chief Big Foot Memorial Ride and follows the same path as the ancestors walked before being massacred. It would not be a Lakota ceremony without some suffering, so of course it takes place during the toughest time, winter. With temperatures on the average below zero, ground blizzards and the treacherous cliffs of the badlands the riders suffer through the two weeks on horseback.

But with each day come a reason for riding, a reason for praying, a reason for continuing. Shot in a cinema verité style, The Ghost Riders gives the audience an up close and intimate view of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation, that which only a Native filmmaker could be allowed to accomplish.
Comment:  No, The Ghost Riders doesn't star Nicolas Cage as a motorcycle-riding demon with a blazing skull.

For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

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