Skip to main content

Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

In the wake of the discovery of unknown children’s bodies at the Kamloops Indian Boarding School as well as other locations in the United States and Canada, a fearless Native filmmaker is working to explore and expose a disturbing past faced by Native families.

“Oyate Woyaka (The People Speak)” in pre-production delves into the issues of historical trauma, languages lost and the cultural genocide committed due to residential boarding schools.

(Related: 215 bodies found at residential school in Canada)

Oyate Woyaka, which is described as “a feature-length documentary following Lakota elders as they embrace their language and spirituality to heal from historical trauma” on the film’s Kickstarter page, is being created through a collaborative process by filmmaker Bryant High Horse and his nephew George McCauliffe.

The project has already raised more than $35,000 in less than a month.

The film's concept was inspired by High Horse and McAuliffe and “has grown to include a large circle of incredible elders, spiritual leaders, activists and artists, according to the production team of Oyate Woyaka. This circle includes George "Tink" Tinker, Steven Newcomb, Dollie Red Elk, Ben Rhodd and Duane Hollow Horn Bear, Arlene Muller, Pasha Gazdyuk, Andres Acosta and Eric Schleicher as well as the support of the Sicangu Oyate, dreams and prayers.”

“Oyate Woyaka” is told from the perspective of traditional Lakota elders. All fluent in Lakota and many survivors of assimilation boarding schools. (Courtesy image)

High Horse says healing begins by embracing Native languages and spirituality to heal from historical trauma.

“There are times we find ourselves on the surface culture and hierarchy when we speak the English language. It is vital that we return to speaking Lakota and bring more young people back to the deep, spiritual culture,” said High Horse to Indian Country Today.

“When we use Lakota philosophy and ceremony along with our original language, healing is possible. These were developed over thousands of years and bring psychological well-being to Lakota people.

“Western medicine and philosophy alone will not bring healing and allow us to be in a healthy relationship with each other and the Earth. If we can return to the language, we will have more influence on the world.”

As expressed on their Kickstarter page, “Most Americans know that the history of the United States includes horrific atrocities and genocide committed against Native Americans. Many believe that this is in the past and therefore cannot be changed or fixed."

“Oyate Woyaka” is determined to show that. 

ICT logo bridge

Our stories are worth telling. Our stories are worth sharing. Our stories are worth your support. Contribute $5 or $10 today to help Indian Country Today carry out its critical mission. Sign up for ICT’s free newsletter.