Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DVD: Racing the Rez

In the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pueblo Indians fought and drove the Spanish out of our homelands. The revolt was carefully planned by tribal leaders, and then it was set in motion by runners who carried instructions to all the Pueblo villages. Today, we mark the revolt with commemorations and runs, too, to remember our ancestors and their fight for our right to exist as Pueblo Indian people.

At a lot of schools in the southwest with Native students, cross country running is the sport-of-choice. Many runners talk of how important running was to our ancestors, and many talk of how running helps them in other ways, too.  

Libraries that want to increase their DVD collection in ways that reflect the diversity of the US, and especially libraries with Native students, will do well by adding Racing the Rez to their shelves. Here's the trailer:

Earlier today I watched the entire film, studying the faces of the students, thinking about their lives and how hard they work on running, and how hard they work to overcome personal struggles, too. In watching Racing the Rez, your emotions won't be manipulated by a narrative of heroic underdogs. Instead, you'll see real kids living their lives. Trying--and sometimes not trying--to do their best. 

The film focuses on the cross country teams at two schools: Tuba City High School, and, Chinle High School. Both are located in Arizona. You'll meet runners on the team who are Navajo or Hopi, but there's also a runner who is White and Puerto Rican. You'll meet their parents, too, and of course, their coaches. And you'll meet the stunning and stark beauty of the landscape of the Navajo reservation. 

Watching the film, I remember going to cross country track meets when I taught at Santa Fe Indian School... Looking out into that beautiful land, seeing runners drop in and out of sight as they ran up hillsides, down into arroyos, and behind pinon trees. 

Racing the Rez was the 2012 Action/Sport selection at the Flagstaff Film Festival. It is an official selection for Best Documentary at the 2012 American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and if you're out there, you can see it on Tuesday, November 6.  It will be airing on public television stations, too. Contact your station for information.

The DVD is available for purchase from Native American Public Telecommunications. They've got a lot of extraordinary films. Take a few minutes and look through their catalog

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