An Overview of the Documentary Film Dodging Bullets

Film Introduction

The film introduces the viewer to Historical Trauma from a high level. Two researchers and AIM Legal Resources worker explain Historical Trauma and a young 14-year girl explains the trauma she is living through while living in the same house where her brother was involved a shoot out with law enforcement.

Segment Features:

Rick McArthur, AIM Legal Resources
Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Winona LaDuke, Program Director, Honor the Earth
Dr. Melissa Walls, research sociologist, UMD
Chy (Native Youth)
Music by Tall Paul and Keith Secola

Directors comment: This sets the stage for the rest of the film and introduces Historical Trauma from differing perspectives. Music from Indigenous Hip Hop Artist Tall Paul and Keith Secola add a first-hand experience of Historical Trauma.

Man Discussing Historical Trauma

First Contact

This segment of the film introduces First Contact from an Indigenous point of view and opposed to a Colonial point of view. It touches on organized religion, education, a new patriarchal society for the Indigenous.

Segment features:

Mike Her Many Horses, Oglala Historian
Melvin Lee Houston, Santee Treaty Rights
Michelle Johnson-Jennings, PhD, Ed.M. clinical health psychologist
Clyde Belecourt, co-founding the American Indian Movement
Music by Karlee Fellner

Directors comment: First Contact is a necessary part of the story, the voices we hear and see tell stories that leave a historical baseline for the film.

Christopher Columbus

No Honor in Racism

This segment of the film discusses the current day issues of the Washington Football Team and how they are rooted in the past and affect Indigenous people today.

Segment features:

Vanessa Goodthunder, Director of Cansayapi Wakanyeza Owayawa Oti
Jesse Ventura, Governor, State of Minnesota
Clyde Belecourt
Dr. Melissa Walls
Richie Plass, Curator Bittersweet Winds
Tara Houska, tribal attorney, the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth
Dr. Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Betty McCollum

Directors Comment: The live footage was filmed in one weekend at an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Football team, allowing us to gather voices from around the country. We used Vanessa Goodthunder’s speech in her Dakota language to give the non-Native viewer an idea what past Indigenous speaking people faced while growing up.

Boarding School Era

This segment of the film takes a very close look at the US governments efforts to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”. Witnesses give first-hand stories about their time in the boarding school system as youths and the abuse they went through.

Segment features:

Melvin Lee Houston
Mike Her Many Horses
Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings
Dr. Melissa Walls
Dr. Anton Treuer
Don Coyhis, President and Founder of White Bison
Linda Eagle Speaker, Elder In Residence, MIWRC
Joseph Marshall III, historian, writer, teacher, craftsman, administrator, actor, and public speaker

Directors Comment: One of the most difficult segments of the film to watch. It is a rare glimpse of stories from a generation that is still live to tell them, yet it seems unfathomable that they were allowed to happened and that these stories are just a few generations in our past.

Treaty Rights

Indigenous Treaty rights are a fuzzy subject for non-Natives. But for the Indigenous they are contracts the Federal Government seems to break at the will. This segment looks at the 1855 Treaty (Treaty with the Chippewa). In this treaty, two Ojibwe groups ceded a large tract of land in northwest Minnesota, while retaining their usufruct rights upon the land. The segment follows a treaty right advocate as he attempts to harvest wild rice.

Segment features:

Dr. Melissa Walls
Dr. Anton Treuer
Leonard Thompson, Treaty Rights Activist
Music By Dorene Day Waubanewquay

Directors Comment: One of our favorite segments because it is a fight that is currently going today and has deep roots in Historical Trauma.

Social Justice

Although a popular a phase today, social justice in Indian Country is very difficult to understand. The disparities between Natives and non-Natives when it comes to health care, law enforcement, and access are so widespread that it is difficult to grasp. In this segment Historical Trauma is explored as the root cause of the social injustices incurred by the Indigenous people of the United States.

Segment features:

Dr. Melissa Walls
Dr. Anton Treuer
Rick McArthur
Chy (Native Youth)
Lester Johnson III, Ed.D., Adjunct Professor University of Montana-Missoula

Directors Comment: This is a part of the story that must be told, you can not discuss Historical Trauma without talking about the social injustices and disparities occurring in Indian Country today.

Loss and Resilience

Suicide rates are the second leading cause of death for Native American youth. This final segment tells the story of loss of friends and family and what the Indigenous are working to do to be resilient.

Segment features:

Dr. Melissa Walls
Dr. Anton Treuer
Dirk Whitebreast, runner, entrepreneur, and a board member for the Center for Native American Youth
Emmy May, Red Lake
Lester Johnson III
Mike Her Many Horses
Dr. Rachel Yehuda

Directors Comment: After taking the viewer on a very tough journey of complex and unsettling issues, we leave them on a very positive note of hope and resilience.