In 2005, media advocacy groups, including Native Americans in Television and Film, announced their annual evaluations of indigenous presence in American media. Native Americans were almost invisible yet again, with the exception of a few limited stereotypes.
We founded Longhouse Media in January 2005 to address this critical problem. We wanted to help catalyze indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change. Our primary program, Native Lens, brings digital media training to Native youth in rural and urban settings. Native Lens' youth-produced films have yielded strong and positive new media, increased participants' self-esteem, worked as a catalyst for community interaction and dialogue, and supported youth in the development of life skills and academic success in school.
Addressing the topic of biotoxins is not a particularly thrilling project for 15-year-old boys, but Nick, Cody, and Travis — three of our youth participants — were interested in learning how to make films as a substitute for their mandated drug-treatment program. They thought working on a Native Lens project would help them stay out of trouble and stick together. We decided to film a piece about the two oil refineries located on March Point.
March Point weaves the boys' stories together with the documentary they are making, resulting in a parallel awakening. As the boys uncover the detrimental impact of the refineries on the health of their tribe and discover the land dispute issue, they begin to see themselves as storytellers and leaders in their community. What happened exceeded anything we could have imagined. Although they were unable to resolve the environmental and land issues they uncovered, the process of filmmaking, inquiring and defending their tribe had a life-changing effect on them. Ultimately, it is their unique voice that separates this film from others that have dealt with similar issues. It was an honor to work on this collaborative and community-based project. We believe in the power of March Point, as told by its young storytellers, to educate, inspire, and transform.
— Tracy Rector and Annie Silverstein
Annie Silverstein, Producer
Annie Silverstein has been working in the field of filmmaking and youth media for the past eight years. While majoring in history and receiving a BA from Macalester College, Annie worked at Phillips Community Television as the program coordinator of Our Turn, a monthly television show produced by youth about issues affecting them and the Phillips community. She relocated to Seattle in 2002 to direct the Young Producers Project at 911 Media Arts Center, and shortly after, launched the Native Lens program in partnership with the Swinomish tribe and has since dedicated herself to teaching filmmaking as a form of cultural preservation and social change in the Native community. She continues to write, direct and produce film projects. In 2004 Annie wrote and directed A Jew’s Guide to Christmas, a documentary short that was the sum of many years of relentless holiday envy, which aired on Seattle’s PBS station KCTS and was screened as a distinguished feature by the Seattle Art Museum. Other films include Chase Me (writer/director/producer), Sisters of the Good Death (co-producer/cinematographer/editor), and Eu, Selaron (writer/director/producer-currently). In 2007 Annie was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for her project Nossas Historias and spent a year in Rio de Janeiro filming, teaching, and studying the impact of youth media programs in a home for orphaned and displaced youth from Rio’s favelas. She is artistic director and co-founder of Longhouse Media, an indigenous media arts organization and home of the nationally acclaimed program Native Lens.
Tracy Rector, Producer
Tracy Rector earned her master's in education and teacher certification from Antioch University’s First Peoples Program. She specializes in Native American studies, traditional plant medicine, and documentary film. As the co-producer of the award-winning films Teachings of the Tree People and The Work of Bruce Miller for the Seattle Art Museum, Tracy has developed an awareness and sensitivity to the power of media and film as a modern storytelling tool. Her work has been featured at National Geographic’s All Roads Film Project and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian and she is the recent recipient of the prestigious Native American Public Telecommunications Producers grant and Horace Mann Award. As a Native education specialist, Tracy offers unique insight to her projects. Her vision is to bring traditional and contemporary education together on a foundation based in environmental stewardship. March Point is an example of co-collaborating with youth filmmakers as a process of alternative education and inquiry into the world. She is currently working with the Seattle Art Museum as an education consultant, as a Native naturalist for the Olympic sculpture park, and in planning for the new expanded Native American wing of the Seattle Art Museum and the international exhibition “S’abadeb — The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists.” Tracy is also currently developing curriculum for IslandWood, an environmental education center. She is the executive director and co-founder of Longhouse Media, an indigenous media arts organization and home of the nationally acclaimed program Native Lens.