Screenshots from The Blackfeet Flood mobile documentary. Images courtesy of Shors, Swaney, and Oppegaard.
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — Fifty years since the worst natural disaster in Montana’s recorded history, a new, mobile documentary, The Blackfeet Flood, is allowing viewers to experience and remember the life-changing event.
Vision Maker Media announced grant funding for the new media project in summer 2014 and Humanities Montana has also signed on in support.
The Blackfeet Flood mobile application is currently available with new content being added this summer. Mobile development of the project is being led by Brett Oppegaard, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii. Producer Brooke Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish) and producer/director Benjamin Shors, a clinical associate professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, created the mobile documentary to take us back to June 1964, when heavy rains and the collapse of two dams in northwestern Montana resulted in the deaths of 29 people and the relocation of hundreds on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
“Not only was the flood a terrible disaster, it’s also one of the least understood and untold stories of 20th-century Montana,” said Shors.
Swaney adds, “We want viewers and students to understand this piece of history and to also see the documentation of what happened in the years that followed, bringing us to present day.”
On June 8, 2015, a team of documentary filmmakers will host a forum to showcase the documentary’s short films. The workshop will be hosted at Blackfeet Community College. “We want to show these films and help encourage a community discussion about the lingering impacts of this tragedy,” said Shors. “It is also an opportunity to discuss the role that the public can play in preserving these stories.”
The Blackfeet Flood mobile application is available as a free download for iOS or Android compatible phones or tablets by searching “Blackfeet 1964.” The mobile app features short films of survivors’ stories, historic documents, and images. GPS recognition allows app users to visit the exact sites of the flooding and open pertinent videos. Users can then upload real-time responses to a database to share their own stories and ideas.
For more information, visit http://sixtyfourflood.com.