Former Lummi Nation chairman Darrell Hillaire has produced plays on unfulfilled treaty promises and racism in sports. Now, he’s producing a film he hopes will change our treatment of the planet and those we share it with.
Hillaire’s Setting Sun Productions is making an educational film on climate impacts for the U.N. Summit on Climate Change in Paris. The film will be called “Teachings,” and will feature a group of respected leaders sharing their wisdom about living a good life on this earth. The film will be made November 14 at the Wexliem Community Building on the Lummi Reservation. The filming is open to the public.
Hillaire said he started Setting Sun Productions to make Native American-themed performance arts, and the culture and history of Native American people, more accessible. His original plays "What About Those Promises?" and "Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Redskins" sold out multiple performances in the Pacific Northwest.
"What About Those Promises?" is a story of the Lummi way of life and the broken promises of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott.
Setting Sun produced an audio version of “Beginnings: A Meditation on Coast Salish Lifeways,” the 2003 book by the Rev. Patrick J. Twohy.
A short film, “It’s Good to be Home,” is about a teen in foster care who returns to the Lummi reservation and has a dream, featuring animation drawn in Coast Salish art style.
"Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Redskins" takes a satirical look at racism in sports. The production is the subject of a 24-minute documentary by the Witnessing Our Future Project and Northwest Indian College.
“In the 1930s my great-grandfather, Frank Hillaire, formed a Lummi song and dance troupe named, ‘Children of the Setting Sun,’” Hillaire wrote on Setting Sun’s website, Before passing, my great-grandfather left these instructions to his descendants, ‘Keep my fires burning!’ As my grandparents and parents before me, we continue to follow these instructions.”
(In one week, a gofundme account raised $1,900 of a $5,000 goal for the film’s production. Go to www.gofundme.com/teachings.)
Parker hopes the film gives voice to indigenous teachings about caring for the environment that sustains us.
The speakers are:
Lummi Chairman Honorable Timothy Ballew II, who works to preserve, promote and protect the Schelangen (Way of Life); among his recent challenges is the battle to protect Cherry Point, a village site and fishing ground, from the proposed construction of coal export terminal.
Steven Point, Sto’lo’ Nation, former lieutenant governor of British Columbia and a provincial judge.
Dr. Gwen Point, Sto’lo’ Nation, chancellor of the University of Fraser Valley University.
Eugene Harry, Cowichan Nation, cultural adviser to the British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society. He portrayed Chief Seattle (Si’ahl) in the Setting Sun Productions play, “What About Those Promises?”
Jewell “Praying Wolf” James, Lummi Nation, House of Tears Carvers and director of the Lummi Nation Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office.
Deborah Parker, former Tulalip Tribes council member and advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
The film will be gifted to Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons, who will attend the U.N. Summit on November 30.
“The past 200 years have been atrocious, as we’ve watched our lands be destroyed, as we’ve watched mines blow up and pollute our rivers,” Parker said. “We have respect for all creatures we share this world with. It’s about balance. It’s not about the mighty dollar for us, it’s about having a sustainable future … If we go back to the teachings, it’s always about sustainable living and protecting the earth. I always wonder, ‘Why aren’t we listening? How can we [live] in a way that is far less destructive to our planet? How do we live more simply? How can we get to that place where we feel life has enough abundance for us?’”