This 10 minute video focuses on the work of the Seventh Generation Fund (SGF) and their use of the concept of cultural healing for positive health-care outcomes.
SGF asked us to produce a video for them to use as a tool in response to the problem they were having with foundations and other funders in conveying Native American culturally specific and culturally relevant concepts about health. Most health oriented funders were predisposed to fund worthwhile programs such as doctors and clinics, but that left little room for the kinds of programs SGF wanted to implement.
The process of making the video was a cross-cultural experience itself. The plan was to video at the regular annual gathering of the organization, following activities and profiling individuals with in a 3 day period. In preparation however, the priority instruction we received was not about what the video was to contain, but about what NOT to film. Don’t film without asking. Don’t film sacred rituals. Don’t film songs without being invited. Don’t, don’t, don’t…
In driving to the event, we realized that perhaps the most culturally sensitive course of action might very well be to NEVER take out the camera – which would of course result in a failure for the overall project. Yet we knew from our instructions from all levels of SGF, that NOT filming was actually more important than filming.
Our decision was to fully participate in the event, introducing ourselves and the project, but as individuals and not with the camera out as documentarians. We decided that we would describe what we wanted to video, but simply never to bring out the camera until asked to do so. Our decision meant that we were prepared to fail totally in our goal-oriented task of making a video, knowing that at least such an approach guarenteed that we would succeed at being culturally appropriate, even if nothing more.
Day One – no one asked us to video.
Day two – no one asked us to video.
Day three (last day) in the morning, no one asked us to video.
Day three afternoon …
Someone finally asked us to film his grandmother because she had a story important to tell. And that began a flood – everyone was running up to us asking us to film this or that, and why it was important and how we should do so. We worked until far far into the night, but the material we got was far superior to anything we would have found by probing – it was the truth as the individuals there felt it, volunteered because they wanted it.
We regard it as our non-accredited PhD in cultural appropriate film-making, and some of the people we met that weekend have remained friends of ours to this day.