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A champion of Indigenous filmmaking

Sundance Institute's N. Bird Runningwater joins the show to talk about what he has been up to lately and national correspondent Dalton Walker talks about service cuts at one Pueblo hospital.
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For nearly 20 years N. Bird Runningwater has worked with the Sundance Institute as the director of the Institute's Indigenous program. Today he joins the show to talk about his work.

Plus national correspondent Dalton Walker joins us to talk about the closure of one New Mexico Indian Health Service emergency facility. 

Some quotes from today's show. 

N. Bird Runningwater:

"It's actually the first drama for network television. Interestingly, there is a significant movement happening with Native television right now. There's one show that is currently shooting for the Peacock platform. Which is being show run by our first Indigenous showrunner Sierra Ornelas and she's Navajo. Then Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi just shot a pilot for their half-hour dramedy. So there's two other shows that are in movement. And so our show as you know is basically an hour long family drama for network television that is currently in development. Which basically means it's deep in the writing stages, it's deep in the definition stages, and it's going to be something I think that's gonna be really exciting."

"I think you just said it, I have such a great privilege of being able to travel to so many different countries around the world and to visit Indigenous communities around the world and to be welcomed by them and to be fed by them. I gave the opening keynote speech a few years ago at the Indigenous film conference in the Arctic circle in Norway, on the Saami side of where, of the Arctic circle are they Indigenous Saami people are. I can't count the number of times that I've been to New Zealand. I mean when you go into New Zealand and you're going to weddings and funerals, you know that you're in really deep with the community. And so that's New Zealand for me, but then it's also hitting all these amazing territories."

"So there's a lot of adjustments, as many of us are making in so many of our processes and daily lives. But basically what will happen is we'll be getting all of these DVDs. And there's an online platform where you can go in to look at work, observe work. And all of the different branches will be nominating from their branches, who they want their nominees to be. Eventually we'll reach a slate of nominees to where you receive a ballot and you vote. I got to go to the awards this past March to watch Taika win his Oscar award, but who knows how the show's going to be handled in the future."

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Dalton Walker:

"We got a notice from the Acoma Pueblo in regard to its service unit. There was some closure to a lot of key services it provides. And we learned more about the closures. Acoma Pueblo Governor Brian Vallo, held a news conference. Later in the day, Indian Health Service held a news conference to explain what happened on their end. It included IHS director, Michael Weahkee. Which is a pretty big deal when you have the top person from IHS come out to explain what's going on. Basically the hospital in Acoma has cut back on a lot of its key services."

"It was a hospital that provided a lot of services to not only citizens of the Pueblo there, but other Pueblo citizens and even Navajo people along that interstate 40 corridor. And now basically hours have been cut in services have been pulled back. We found out Monday that it's related to pulling back some of the funding that's allocated for the Laguna Pueblo from IHS for health care, to dedicate to a facility in Laguna."

"Especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Vallo stressed how the Coronavirus has affected his community and how an increase of cases have been coming up in November compared to past months. So that's a big part of it too. And then at the same time, theses services that were critical to the tribe are no longer offered. There's still urgent available. But the hours, like I mentioned are pulled back regarding the type of services. But yes, if you have an emergency or something that's severe, when you had this place very close, now you either have to head up the road to a smaller county clinic are either up to Albuquerque, which is roughly 60 miles away from the Pueblo."

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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