Historical Trauma Film Blog

Mike Her Many Horses speaks on Historical Trauma in Pine Ridge

Mike Her Many Horses Mike Her Many Horses

At the end of April or crew for Dodging Bullets hit the road once again in the House on Wheels to head to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to gather another insightful interview.  This time we met with Mike Her Many Horses, a Lakota Sioux council member who provided us with a broader historical overview of specific traumatic experiences that happened to a vast majority of Native Americans.  He discussed with us a variety of events that happened as a result of first contact.  His historical anecdotes helped to tie together many of the other interviews we have conducted since production on the documentary began.  We realized along the way that we were gathering many personal experience stories; interviews with people who currently suffer from Historical Trauma. Read more >


Dodging Bullets teams up with theater director and playwright Rhiana Yazzie for youth segment

Filming Youth about being Native American Filming Youth about being Native American

In early February our production crew for Dodging Bullets teamed up with theater director and playwright Rhiana Yazzie to film a group of young Native American students discussing their perspective on what it’s like being Native American in 2015.  Rhiana Yazzie is a Navajo playwright, director, performer, and producer based in the Twin Cities.  She is a two time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, the creator of the Twin Cities theater company New Native Theater, and even an award winning radio/audio theater writer and director.  Having her direct this segment of our film was an honor, she was able to bring something together for our documentary that it seemed to be lacking, and that was the hopeful innocence of young people. Read more >


Historical Trauma, Love and Melvin lee

Santee Sioux Reservation, Nebraska Santee Sioux Reservation, Nebraska

As we begin winding down our production for Dodging Bullets and get ready to enter the post-production, editing phase, we have found ourselves pushing to get as many last minute interviews as we can.  This past weekend our production team was able to hop in the minivan and drive to Santee, Nebraska to meet with a man by the name of Melvin Lee, a Dakota Sioux Indian. Melvin, who is now in his 60’s suffers from diabetes and is currently going through dialysis 3 times a week;  it was simply amazing that he was willing to spend almost three hours with us, sharing his life story. Read more >


Tara Houska discusses the R-Word and Historical Trauma

Tara Houska on Set On Set with Tara Houska

Near the end of November, our production team for Dodging Bullets was given the opportunity to sit down with Tara Houska, a lobbyist from Washington D.C. who is also an integral member of the Not Your Mascots campaign against racist mascots in sports teams. Being from a Native American heritage, Houska was an excellent source of information and credibility behind the debate over the use of the Washington Redskins name and mascot. She was able to concisely and passionately explain the harms that have come from the use of this particular mascot, and helped paint a vivid portrait of how this mascot does not honor Native American culture, rather how it is damaged it. Read more >


Change the Name Rally at the University of Minnesota

No Honor in Racism Change the Name Rally

This past weekend our crew for Dodging Bullets went to the TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN to witness and capture the protest that took place during the Vikings vs. Redskins NFL football game.  More than 5,000 people came to march and protest the use of the Redskins name and logo. The protest, arranged and put on by the American Indian Movement and the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, gathered on the University of Minnesota campus early Sunday morning and marched to the front of the stadium where a small stage was placed that would serve as the platform for the 29 speakers that would speak out against the use of derogatory and degrading name. “Change the Name, change the Name!” became the chant throughout the day, with speakers calling out to the crowd of protesters to look up to the box where Redskin’s owner Dan Snyder and chant those words. Read more >


Emmy Speaks on Overcoming in Red Lake, Minnesota

Emmy Emmy

After our visit with Melissa Walls and Michelle Johnson-Jennings in Duluth, we made our way to Red Lake, Minnesota to meet with a young Native woman by the name of Emmy.  Her story would be the first we would capture for Dodging Bullets from the perspective of someone suffering from past trauma.  We knew going into the interview what has happened in her life, we had heard the basic stories of how her life has been touched by the multiple suicides of her friends and family.  We also knew going into the interview that this would be the first time she has opened up to strangers and cameras about the story.  We knew we had to handle this delicately, wanting to get the full story, yet not intruding into her life or making her feel like we were exploiting her story.  Our purpose was to share her story, exactly as she wanted to tell it.  It is a story that needed to be told, and it was a story that truly is shocking in its obvious implications that Historical Trauma has affected Emmy’s life. Read more >


Filming Melissa Walls Ph.D. and Michelle Johnson-Jennings Ph.D., from University of Minnesota-Duluth

Melissa Walls Ph.D. Interview Melissa Walls Ph.D. Interview

Our first shoot for Dodging Bullets began in May when we took a trip to Duluth, Minnesota to meet with two assistant professors from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, Melissa Walls Ph.D. and Michelle Johnson-Jennings Ph.D., Ed.M. Both of these women are co-director’s at the Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) Center, a joint collaborative with the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and School of Medicine, whose vision is to decrease American Indian health disparities and increase American Indian health equity through culturally respectful and responsive research collaborations involving interested tribal communities, University of Minnesota researchers, and other academic and community affiliates.
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Filming Dirk Whitebreast at the Fox Cities Marathon

Running for suicide prevention at the Fox City marathon Running for suicide prevention at the Fox City marathon

In September our film crew for Dodging Bullets, drove out to Appleton, Wisconsin to meet Dirk Whitebreast and a group of Wittenberg Youth Council Members from the Ho-Chunk Indian Nation who ran the Fox Cities Marathon relay in support of suicide prevention. The experience was empowering, as we were able to follow both relay teams, Soul Runners and Soul to Sole, interview and listen to Dirk’s touching story, and attend a suicide prevention banquet with Dirk and members of the Ho-Chunk community.

Running to Recover 

What we captured for the film is the one side of the story that seemed to be missing, and that is the story of Dirk. He shared his story of how he grew up touched by many of the negative effects associated with  trauma, such as addiction, obesity, and suicide, and explained to us how his troublesome life experiences led him to become a better person and an advocate for suicide prevention. Dirk’s life narrative is the story that will tie the individual narratives of this film together; his story has links to the stories of almost everyone who has been interviewed for this film. Dirk is our real-life example of success and overcoming. He is one of the key assets in the story to exemplify historical trauma as something that does not have to define an individual’s outcome. Dirk’ story can teach young people like Chyenne from Browning, Montana and Emmy May from Red Lake, Minnesota that they have the power and ability to overcome the obstacles in their life created by historical trauma. Read more >


A Conversation with Dr. Anton Treuer about Treaty Rights 

Filming Dr. Anton Treuer about treaty rights Dr. Anton Treuer talks about treaty rights.

In June, our crew for Dodging Bullets made a quick road trip to Bemidji State University in Minnesota to meet with Dr. Anton Treuer, Executive Director of the Native American Resource Center, to discuss his opinions about historical trauma; its’ causes, effects, and what is being done or what can be done to reverse its grasp on the Native American community.


The shoot began at the American Indian Resource Center, where we were able to sit down with Dr. Treuer in their beautiful presentation room, and interview him for approximately an hour and a half about Historical Trauma. What light Dr. Treuer shed on the subject was insightful to say the least, but what really set his interview apart from the other professional interviews we have gathered was his ability to take the concepts he was talking about and to put them into laymen’s terms, providing anecdotes that have the ability to tie any person who hears what he says to their own personal lives. He is obviously well educated and has intense feelings about the subject, but he is able, through the way he talks about historical trauma, to almost lose the connotation that this interview is about Native Americans. Read more >


Historical Trauma in Indian Country… Blackfoot Nation—Browning, Montana

Blackfoot Nation in Browning, Montana The road to the Blackfoot Nation in Browning, Montana

Earlier this summer, our crew made a road trip from Minneapolis to Browning, Montana to get some first hand encounters with the people living within the grasp of historical trauma. From an interpersonal standpoint, our crew was in for a serious test of our individual ability to work alongside one another, both day and night, within the confines of a 20 foot Sprinter View RV for eight days straight. To say the least, it had its’ difficult moments, but we were all able, when it came to shooting time, to put our exhaustion and sore bodies aside, focus on the task at hand, and capture some beautiful, engaging footage. Director/Producer, Bob Trench, was able to secure three interviews to be shot in North Dakota and Montana over those eight days, each of which added another layer to the whole experience of taking part in this journey that has been filming Dodging Bullets. Read more >


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