Big Sky Doc 2019
Kansas, Minneapolis/St Paul, Santa Fe, California American Indian/Indigenous, Pine Ridge Indigenous
An exploration of the painful legacy of forced family separation in Native American communities.
For 100 years, the US government sought to “kill the Indian and save the man” by sending Native youth to boarding schools where they were stripped of their culture, language, and family connections – and often suffered physical and emotional abuse. For part of this time period, another method to “assimilate” Native populations involved the removal of youth from their families for adoption by white families, further decimating familial and cultural bonds. In 1978, Native parents and allies attempted to bring this shameful practice to an end with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Director Drew Nicholas explores this issue through the affecting story of Sandy White Hawk, who has spent decades reckoning with the forced separation she endured and attempting to help others like herself find a way to re-establish connections with their family and community, through ritual and group healing. At the same time, the film looks at legal attempts to circumvent the ICWA in what many Native community leaders see as a flagrant attempt to keep a pipeline open for the lucrative adoption economy, no matter what ill affect it has on the children, their family, or their culture.