Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Native students rebut ABC's "Children of the Plains"

In October of 2011, ABC broadcast "Children of the Plains" on its 20/20 program. Watching the promos for it, I shook my head. Diane Sawyer gave her viewers a very narrow program that did little to portray Native youth in the fullness of their existence.

Today (December 13, 2011) I'm sharing a rebuttal to Sawyer.

Please watch More Than That, and share it with as many people as you can. Those of you who work with children's literature in some way, keep this video in mind when you're reviewing books. We need literature that reflects the entirety of who we are rather than an outsiders romantic or derogatory misconception.

More Than That...  
by students at Todd County High School
Mission, South Dakota

Update: 6:15 AM, Wednesday, December 14, 2011

After posting the video yesterday, I watched some of the other videos the students have on Youtube. They do a video news broadcast at their school. That's what the first part of the video below shows, but the second half is a series of outtakes. While More Than That... blew me away, 12-12-11 (below) made me smile. These students are terrific! Right now, the school features More Than That... on their homepage.

12-12-11 Falcon News
Todd County High School
Mission, South Dakota


GW Nelson said...

This is a really good tribute to our native youth. However, the fact remains the Lakota people do not have a good environment, as other Tribes may have. They do live in poverty, and the lives of those kids are very different. I met those kids at a recent conference, and they are all that you portray here, despite their economic background. Native youth are smart, loving, caring, but are they not also affected by assimilation? Tribes are losing their cultural identities, language, practices, and left with memories of their former selves. The ABC Special points out the real life differences even between Tribes, not all Tribal economies are the same, and the Special shows there is third world economies here in the U.S. I appreciate your efforts here, and understand why you want to portray a different light, but let's not look the other way, and understand the lives of those kids from the Lakota are real.

chomiji said...

Re the comment above: it's estimated that the ABC show drew 4.74 million total viewers. How many visitors do you think will see the lovely video that Ms. Reese has posted here? (Currently, it has fewer than 400 views on YouTube.)

I don't think that providing a positive counterpoint constitutes "looking the other way" at genuine issues. For many of these teens, it's likely that life is both good and bad simultaneously. I believe that presenting the positive is also important.

I will be posting links to the video on my blog and my Facebook page.

proudteacher said...

I am one of the teachers who helped put this video together, I do not feel as though we are looking the other way, but as the person who first responded to your comment said, we need to also look at the positives. Not everyone in the world knows what living on a reservation is like and while we do have negatives that we live with every day, there is an abundance of positive as well. I see that in my students when I watch this video. I personally could not be more proud of them. We actually have more than 357 hits, YouTube has been so bogged down with people watching this that they can't keep up. This has been going over so well that YouTube cannot keep up. As one of my students said "We broke the Internet, we are pretty awesome." Though the documentary did show some of the positives, they also displayed many negatives without truly looking into the cause. As I say/said to my students, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. In other words, they missed out on some great information about a group of wonderful people who sometimes are down on their luck like every other person in this world. I am glad we have supporters out there and I'm happy to see people taking an interest in this video. We are not looking the other way, I assure you, but sometimes, after you get slapped with so many negatives, you need something to boost your moral and that is exactly what our students did.

chomiji said...

proudteacher, I see that the hit count on YouTube has been updated, and it is now nearly 10 times what I saw last night - awesome! The kids not only broke the Internet, they win the Internet.

Debbie Reese said...

Proud teacher,

I think the video is being seen far more than the Youtube counter indicates.

If someone watches it at the high school website or my site, or any of the places it is being shared, I don't think the Youtube counter keeps track of those views. I could be wrong about that...

proudteacher said...

You are probably right. One of our math teachers is keeping track for a little math experiment fun. It's a great day to be a Falcon!

mbpbooks said...

Lovely video. Thank you.

Beverly Slapin said...

Dear Proudteacher,

As you know, Indian children are bombarded by media and educational bias in movies, textbooks, "children's books about Indians," and "specials" such as Diane Sawyer's stereotype-laden "Children of the Plains." As you also know, it's not often easy for children growing up Indian.

You have shown that encouragement goes a long way. What Indian children especially need is what you have given your Lakota teens--something that builds their self-confidence and feeds their spirits. Along with filmmaking skills, math skills, creative writing skills, and a large dose of pride, you have given them something they will probably keep in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

You have a lot for which to be proud.

Phil K said...

More than That. Excellent video. Should do more.

A retired teacher.
Burns, Oregon

Terri said...

These kids--like all kids of any culture--are AMAZING!!! Hopefully, people will learn that it isn't about how much you have, but what you are inside.