Promised Land is a social justice documentary that follows two tribes in the Pacific Northwest: the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they've long been denied. In following their story, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.
Indigenous recognition is at the frontline of the battle for native sovereignty. These tribes—who signed treaties, helped settlers, and lost their land—are asking for their treaties to be honored. To redefine their recognition, to put blood quantum restrictions on who is and isn’t native enough, to redefine treaties over and over, continues a toxic cycle of colonialism where the government, and the corporations it partners with, continues to unlawfully profit off of the resources of indigenous lands at great peril to our increasingly climate-challenged world.
The Northwest is arguably one of the most politically liberal regions in the country. The names of our cities and towns are in Chinuk Wawa and Lushootseed, the region’s native languages. Seattle’s logo is an image of Chief Si’ahl. If in this area, with these tribes that all kids learn about growing up in school, justice can’t be found, then how does that bode for the rest of the country? This film uses the region to spark a discussion about identity and sovereignty, but the message about whose land we inhabit and how we work to right these wrongs is universal.
Though the film begins in a specific region, the story it tells is one that countless tribes are going through not only throughout North America, but throughout the world as well. The film ends by expanding its focus to issues such as aboriginal identity, blood quantum, and the struggle of indigenous communities for self-determination.
This film is presented without a narrator, so that only the voices of the tribal members themselves, along with their allies, are the ones presenting the story. We hope that all our showings will be avenues for indigenous voices to meet with the community and have their voices heard.
The Salcedos, Vasant Samudre Salcedo and Sarah Samudre Salcedo, comprise the filmmaking team Tall Firs Cinema. They began this project in 2013 and are the film's directors, writers, cinematographers, editor, and producer. The documentary was filmed in Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, California, Washington D.C., and New Jersey. It was sponsored and supported by 4Culture and San Francisco Film Society, working in cooperation with both the Duwamish and Chinook tribal councils, and receiving generous help from the community.
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