Controversial Video Set on Rez Depicts Drug Use, Violence and Sundance

ICTMN Staff
12/5/13

A music video (below) for the tune "Alive," by UK drum-n-bass artists Chase & Status and directed by Josh Cole is attracting attention in Indian country for its subject matter. The clip depicts young Natives living on a reservation who struggle with crack addiction and commit crimes to fund their habits. After an epiphany, the young man who is the main character of the video is seen in a sweat lodge and participating in a sundance ceremony.

Now, Cole is under fire from critics on Twitter who feel that the video exploits the usual media narrative about reservation life ("poverty porn," as it's sometimes been called) or cheapens the sundance ceremony by depicting it. Cole argues that the video was made with the consent and help of Blackfeet Natives on the rez in Browning, Montana, where it was filmed.

The video's YouTube page includes a note expressing "thanks to the whole Blackfoot Nation and The Crazy Dogs Society for making us feel at home" as well as credits for the cast, which appears to consist largely (if not fully) of Native actors.

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Axtell208's picture
Axtell208
Submitted by Axtell208 on
i support it..im young and apart of the generation being depicted... Someone Way overseas in the UK took their time to recognize our problems here on the rez...... who else is gonna tell the story?? derek matthews??? hahaha jk im still a lil involved with the street life crossing into the red road...their talking about me, when i watch....thats exactly whats happening to me....

Axtell208's picture
Axtell208
Submitted by Axtell208 on
i support it..im young and apart of the generation being depicted... Someone Way overseas in the UK took their time to recognize our problems here on the rez...... who else is gonna tell the story?? derek matthews??? hahaha jk im still a lil involved with the street life crossing into the red road...their talking about me, when i watch....thats exactly whats happening to me....

Kim G.'s picture
Kim G.
Submitted by Kim G. on
I wish all Indians could receive the help that this young Brave did.Good Job................

Kim G.'s picture
Kim G.
Submitted by Kim G. on
I wish all Indians could receive the help that this young Brave did.Good Job................

April 's picture
April
Submitted by April on
It is such a sad truth. I see it as sad and can relate. Witnessing our own kids here on our Rez going through these exact pains. I love this. I love and see that the young man is seeking wisdom and guidance from his spiritual people. This is and always is a part of healing of our people. As it was said. "You have to go out and find different strong things that give you honor to get rid of all the negative that people have. To bring life back to each and everyone of us."

Dan Sioui's picture
Dan Sioui
Submitted by Dan Sioui on
It is still very difficult for Us to, Be Positive and Ignore the Negative when: we are surrounded with Pain and feel the Pain! What a beautiful Day today! and of course it may be! But! when we look further and see our Brothers and Sisters live in Misery..Oh! there' s a Beautuful Sunset on the Horizon! Of course Non Natives will come with their cameras, and show what they call Reality and think that's a good opportunity to show the real picture of what s currently happening. But No! these things belong to Us! Making money out of other Nations or Ethnicities for the sake of it ! Not helping! We have to Help our own and Rise up to be what we were meant to be! Take care of our own business! Anyways, does it portray the Reality of us as a whole. IT ' sad.... I personally don t like it! Could say so much more.........

Martha Tuplin's picture
Martha Tuplin
Submitted by Martha Tuplin on
If doing this video brings awareness, I see nothing wrong. Mi'kmaq

Martha Tuplin's picture
Martha Tuplin
Submitted by Martha Tuplin on
If doing this video brings awareness, I see nothing wrong. Mi'kmaq

Martha Alvarez's picture
Martha Alvarez
Submitted by Martha Alvarez on
I think the point people are forgetting is some of the ceremonies depicted or traditional and very scared. Outsiders are not allowed to participate in sundance or sweat. We are not allowed to film or even photograph such ceremonies.

Martha Alvarez's picture
Martha Alvarez
Submitted by Martha Alvarez on
I think the point some people are forgetting is that these are traditional ceremonies depicted in this video. Positive or not these are scared and not meant to be shared. Outsiders are not allowed to participate in sundance or sweat. They are not to be filmed or even photographed. We have a lot of people that forget.

Black Shawl Woman's picture
Black Shawl Woman
Submitted by Black Shawl Woman on
As a young Lakota myself living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in the poorest county in the country, I loved this video. I, too, have struggled with meth use and alcohol abuse in my teenage years. I found strength through my family, realizations of our modern world, my Lakota background and my son. This is the cold hard truth on my Rez as I have lived it and there are many more (some of which are my friends and relatives) that also struggle through this. Our people are weakened by a century full of historical trauma BUT like the video, there is help. I don't think that this was to make "poverty porn" but was a simple message to help our people since we have--for many years-- been ignored. Our voices need to be heard and this is a good way of showing it even if it's from UK peoples....

Black Shawl Woman's picture
Black Shawl Woman
Submitted by Black Shawl Woman on
As a young Lakota myself living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in the poorest county in the country, I loved this video. I, too, have struggled with meth use and alcohol abuse in my teenage years. I found strength through my family, realizations of our modern world, my Lakota background and my son. This is the cold hard truth on my Rez as I have lived it and there are many more (some of which are my friends and relatives) that also struggle through this. Our people are weakened by a century full of historical trauma BUT like the video, there is help. I don't think that this was to make "poverty porn" but was a simple message to help our people since we have--for many years-- been ignored. Our voices need to be heard and this is a good way of showing it even if it's from UK peoples....

Bruce A Spence's picture
Bruce A Spence
Submitted by Bruce A Spence on
I mean no disrespect to the Crazy Dogs or the Blackfeet people but I hesitate to expose this video to my grandchildren. The message is: turning to the great spirit for help out of addiction and gangs will only get you killed. If the young protagonist had lived and his friend not shot him in the back, the message would be completely opposite and I would welcome this work. I'd like to hear what our friends on the Blackfeet Reservation have to say about the direction this film took.

Ayla Pingree's picture
Ayla Pingree
Submitted by Ayla Pingree on
very open message for all reservations and native people, weither you understand the full picture or not its not to be retained in a negative matter. But is it not true about drugs or poverty, or unbalanced families, gangs and culture? I like the video, very emotional, very outreaching...aho

SB's picture
SB
Submitted by SB on
What's wrong with this video? It sends a good message. As much as we wouldn't like to admit it. A lot of negative things happen on reserves, there is violence and drugs.... This video does highlight positive aspects as well. Maybe the sun dance shouldn't have been shown but that's about it.

Eyes_49's picture
Eyes_49
Submitted by Eyes_49 on
What I see is a young man going through a struggle, and he turns his life around for the sake of himself, his family, and his spirituality, thats what my eyes see, but my heart see's is a film crew, a group of people telling him what he's going to do in this video, a young man who knew better than not to participate in activities like this, but did anyway, and a very sacred ground where cameras, media and people looking at....now what is going to happen? hmmm once this video gets more views than its chewed for? than what is it going to be? our sacred sundance is now going to be filmed? is that what I see for this futre of our young akitchita's? people now thrashing about bragging that they sundanced? I get the message in the video, its nice...but theres a reason why my great grandpa and his grandpa told me when I was just a young "Takoja" that this land is a gift from the creator, and our ceremonies are very sacred, and they ways that were taught to us a beautiful thing that we should experience, it would be nice to know if this young boy did actually change his life, than just do this for the "camera"....and that a filming of a sundance ground should never be done again...

AshenLady's picture
AshenLady
Submitted by AshenLady on
I really hope you people aren't condemning this, I mean sure they're white and not even American but I think it's great. You all want people to see what's going on with us Native peoples so someone does and it's not good enough or goes to far? Get over it people! You can't have your fry-bread and eat it too!

TT's picture
TT
Submitted by TT on
I wept with tears. I'm 24 and have just started my life. Facing drug addiction in my teen years, I felt and seen the struggle that happens on the reservation. Why negativity about it? We need to hear and see the message that it is giving. We need to help our children fight this battle no matter how much it hurts. That is how I stopped. My family continued to fight for me when I had no fight in me. I had my cultural teachings to guide me. There is always change in life. And to have that change we have to make an exception. Social media has changed the views on our children and brainwashed them. If this will work then why not use it. How else are we going to help them stop?

Cayla's picture
Cayla
Submitted by Cayla on
What a strong powerful video/song. I don't know why its such a controversial people making a big deal out of it saying it shows a negative aspect in the reserves when its absolutely TRUE. Regardless if its two white man singing it, its a native actor let alone the video proves a point on him changing his life and the effect it has on others hte what it can do. I can go on and on with this but i think its a good heart touching song. People should open up there eyes and change can't be blaming people or others

Harvey's picture
Harvey
Submitted by Harvey on
Wow This pulled My Tears,It IS True,I SOBERED Up at 24 yrs old Only Thru My Elders Teaching Me LOVE, I AM Now SOBER into My 30th Yr,I as Well Used ALL My ELDERS Taught Me bou My LAKOTA Cuture,You all will One Day Understand When a person Does Something Right in Life Then N Only Then Does That OTHER Side Come Against Keep up Your GOOD Works....Hau MITAKUYA Oyasn.......

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I grew up on a rez, and was subject to crack. in fact the Natives are the ones who dealt it to me. The truth is so many natives go to these sweats and open themselves up to demons, you must know that all spirits AREN'T of God and if its not the Holy Spirit, its DEMONS. In the spiritual realm There is only God and His Holy Spirit, and then fallen angels (which are demons). The reason there is Natives and different type of people (Hispanic, Chinese ect) is because God separated the people ALL OVER THE EARTH long, long time ago. Read the story of tower of babel in the bible. I have seen curses pass down from generation to generation. Im not saying the culture isnt special and amazing, Im saying seek truth about th spiritual realm!! To many Natives dying in sin, to many people period dying in sin, not knowing the true way to fight the fight and be an over comer of whats truly killing the natives (and everyone) and thats our sins! We can take hope there has been a sacrifice, and thats Jesus. No other sacrifice is needed, only belief, only faith that God sent His son to die for you to have eternal life, and if you believe that, something amazing happens, the impossible happens, YOU BECOME FREE~ satn and trick you and your sinful nature cant control you and even tho your body will die, your spirit will live on in Heaven. I pray more natives come to the truth, and be saved!!! Then build from there, go to the sweats, but pray to God in Jesus name. Anything else is opening up yourselves to demons. #truth. Once you get saved satan has NO power over you and you have stopped the generational curse from spreading..HOW? THROUGH THE POWER IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS, BELIEVE IN THE BLOOD, THANK HIM FOR THE BLOOD!!!. I PRAY THIS MINISTERS TO SOMEONE TODAY AND THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT MOVES THROUGH YOU AND CHANGES YOUR LIFE AND ALL THOSE AROUND YOU!!! Embrace culture but know what spirits your truly opening your self up to. Said in Love. CHRISSY

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Great Video and so true! I wish the Young Native Brothers and Sisters open there eyes and see that drugs and alcohol are not the answer to there pain. Natives who were such strong people didn't need drugs and alcohol to survive, they had each other and the old ways to get them through the toughest times. I hope one day they can go back to the true NATIVE WAYS.

steve coe 's picture
steve coe
Submitted by steve coe on
to all the young and old who want change in themselves should watch this ,made me think and cry.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
i DONT THINK PEOPLE ECKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS VERY THING IS HAPPENING AND ITS THE TRUETH.. :/

CourtneyCulver's picture
CourtneyCulver
Submitted by CourtneyCulver on
I grew up on the river exposed to addictive habits. This video made me cry because it sends such a strong message. Those men are beautiful and did a great job.

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