A documentary by a group of high school students from Harlem, Montana and MAPS Media Institute will be featured next Thursday on Montana PBS.
Titled “Looking Forward from Yesterday,” the film highlights the people of the Aaniiih and Nakoda Tribes. MAPS mentors were there with the students to assist throughout the process, but the documentary was conceived, filmed, and edited by the teenagers.
Camera operator Amilia Blackcrow said her hope is that the film exposes and educates more people about her culture.
“My teacher told me that we can’t get mad at people for being so ignorant because we don’t put anything out there to teach them. So I want to teach more about my culture while learning my culture,” explained Blackcrow.
“Looking Forward from Yesterday” has a focus on how all generations pay tribute to their enduring culture and make sure it isn’t lost.
Some may think American Indian culture is things like beadwork, sweat lodge and pow wow. To quote the film, “Culture is so much more. It’s all these little components that make up that word culture.”
Blackcrow said it was important they talk about all aspects, including the hard topics like the sexual abuse of children that happened by predatory priests.
“We go into boarding schools and stories that our grandparents are too afraid to tell us,” she explained.
The teenager added she cherishes the opportunity presented by the documentary to get to better know and understand her elders.
“My favorite things I liked to shoot were when we caught people off guard. We’d be filming and they’d be laughing or crying and where showing emotion, real emotion,” said Blackcrow.
The documentary was made possible thanks to MAPS Media Institute, a nonprofit which empowers, inspires and prepares Montana’s future generations for success through professional media arts instruction, engaging community service and mentoring.The film was supported by funding by Montana Gear Up and the Greater Montana Foundation.
Until the MAPS opportunity, Blackcrow had never picked up a camera before.
“I always wanted to make films and picking up that camera for the first time, I was like ‘yeah this is what I want to do,’” beamed the teenager.
Although a novice by definition, she’s excelling behind the lens according to MAPS. They recently awarded her the Jake Rowley Merit Award for her artistic vision and leadership.
“Where Amilia really stood out to receive the Jake Rowley Merit Award is her diligence and commitment to the craft,” said Janna Williams, the MAPS Communications and Marketing Director. “When she was picking up the camera is was almost as if it was just meant to be.”
“Looking Forward from Yesterday” will air Thursday, July 15 evening at 7:00 p.m. on Montana PBS as a part of their “Stories from Montana’s Future” series. The episode will also feature another MAPS film "In This Together, We Are One" which was written and filmed by the students of Poplar Middle School.
The documentaries will also be making an appearance on August 28 at the International Traditional Games Society 2021 Indigenous Celebration "Gathering of Families."
The MAPS Media Institute is continuing to expand opportunities for creative Montana youth. More information about the programs they offer, including upcoming fall courses, can be found on their website.