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Treatment of Native Americans Explored in Documentary

Two filmmakers explore the treatment of Native Americans from colonial times to present day and look at a number of issues including health care, suicide and unemployment.

This documentary, by Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman, about the treatment of Native American people by the United States government was screened at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. The film touches on a number of issues including boarding schools, suicide rates, unemployment, and alcoholism.

It mentions a suicide pact made by 10 young boys on the Cheyenne River Reservation. The boys drew numbers and one by one hung themselves. This incident didn't make the national news. The film asks: "Imagine if they had been white."

The director statement from the film festival website explains their goals in creating this film:

In making The Canary Effect, our first and foremost goal was to make an accessible statement that was easily digestable for a subject that is complex and often misunderstood. It was also important for us to provide an insight into a world not often visited without the issues being clouded by mysticism and romance. Instead, we chose to tell the story of the struggles of the indigenous people of America in a way that very much relates to the present day in style and content. We wanted to achieve an unforced opinion and to present the information in a way that would inspire debate and allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions. There are so many levels to this story, but above all it was important for us to make it human and to show that, at whatever level you are involved-be it political, scholarly, or living among it everyday-the situation is equally frustrating, infuriating, and heartbreaking.