Published December 15, 2019
“Women of the White Buffalo” in Indian country is a term we have heard a lot, but does the new documentary film directed by Deborah Anderson live up to its title? Many have heard the legend and prophecy of the white buffalo returning to the land and healing the First Nations people. If you haven’t, you can at this website: legendsofamerica.com.
Director and Producer Deborah Anderson with SunRose Ironshell and Delacina Chief Eagle.
Many believe that when the white buffalo returned to the earth it symbolizes the coming of a new age where harmony and spirituality will be restored, and the sacred pipe and ceremonies would once again be honored. So, when white buffalo actually began appearing in the mid 1990s in North America hope was on the horizon. Thinking back upon the mass suffering and near annihilation of the America’s indigenous people, what does this film say or have to say about our past, our current cultural climate and the hope for our indigenous communities?
With that question in mind, I asked Anderson about making the film:
What inspired you to create the film?
I saw the need to use my creative abilities for something bigger than myself. Recognizing that film can be a powerful tool to bring important stories to the masses, I felt I could be a bridge to a world that the mainstream press doesn’t highlight nor support.
What are some phrases from the film that “spoke” to you or inspired you and why?
“We have forgotten who we are because of mainstream culture wanting us to be like them.” – Carol Iron Rope Herrera. This hit me hard as I see how true this statement is. The continued genocide of the Indigenous cultures is creating catastrophic effects on the planet. It is not just the Native Americans, yet all of the Indigenous cultures globally. We have to remember who we are, where we have come from and stay connected to our ancient culture and understanding. Without this connection, humanity will not recover from this massive disconnect from each other.
What are some challenges you faced making the film?
The one challenge to get this film off the ground, was to meet someone within the Native communities that would bring me into the fold and introduce me to the Women that would be brave enough to share their stories on camera. I was blessed to have met Carol Iron Rope Herrera, an elder in the Lakota community, and she was the one that opened the door for me as she believed this film was the answer to her prayers. She met with me and within days realized my intentions were of good and proceeded to make connections. This I know was a huge gift as her relatives trusted her and in turn trusted me.
Now that the film is done, what do you believe the purpose is for the film and what is the next move? (What can they forward to for the film and how could they help?)
The film is a call to action. It is an eye-opening narrative for non-Native people to have a true understanding of what it is to be a modern-day Native woman living on a reservation. It also serves as support for all Native peoples to have their story heard so change can occur. Knowledge is power and I believe that when you watch the film and hear the stories of the powerful women that shared them in the film, you will want to help support the Native communities near you and or get involved in bringing the much needed change to their daily lives. By way of donating your time, fund raising or donating things for the youth within the Native communities that live on the reservations, their circumstances can be changed.
What is the most positive feedback you have received about the film?
The most important thing I see when showing the film, is that 90% of the audience members have no idea of what is going on. They are awakened to a history they barely knew, and I believe are motivated to help. As a filmmaker, knowing that I have created a powerful tool to motivate people to join a conversation that supports change is so very important to me.
This film has already won Best Documentary at the 2019 Red Nation International Film Festival and Deborah Anderson won Best Director for a Feature Documentary at the 2019 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.
If you are interested in watching the Women of the White Buffalo documentary, it will be featured at the 2020 Idyllwild International Film Festival in March. If you are interested in having the film tour your community or campus, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and visit the film’s website at www.womenofthewhitebuffalo.com.
Sewa Buwewa Contreras is a tribal council member of the Yaqui Nation of Southern California.