Set against the stunning backdrop of the Northern Plains, this rich and engaging documentary weaves together the stories of four Lakota Indian families from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Shot over the course of several years, the film provides an inspiring and intimate portrait of contemporary Native American life as well as a unique and compelling depiction of the strength and vitality of Native culture as it unfolds to the viewer over the course of the years.
Ultimately the film balances the many troubles that beset the reservation system with the resilience and fortitude of Lakota culture and spirituality. In doing so, it challenges viewers to recognize and appreciate the power of family, the immense spirit of the natural world, and the healing potential of humor and faith.
Those featured include Michael Little Boy, a spiritual leader who has lived for more than 20 years in a one-room home with his family of seven. He is followed through the tension-filled but gratifying experience of first gaining a new home, and then seeing his family transformed by its arrival.
Grandmother Doris Eagle is determined to put an end to her family’s history of alcoholism, a disease that has devastated Native life over several centuries. The film follows Doris as she steadily rebuilds the strength of her family with love and a keen sense of humor.
Thurman Horse is an artist who struggles to raise his four children in “cluster housing” — a reservation-style ghetto. Over the course of the film, Thurman moves off the reservation twice to find work and a better education for his kids.
Like many people on the reservation, Marian White Mouse is searching for a space that belongs to her alone, a place not regulated by the tribe or federal government. With few resources, Marian tries to build a home on an inherited piece of land in an effort to return to a life of self-sufficiency that is honored in traditional Lakota culture.
“Homeland” will motivate discussion in classes in Native American studies, cultural anthropology, sociology, American studies and history, and comparative religion. It was directed by Jilann Spitzmiller and Hank Rogerson and was produced by Philomath Films in association with the Independent Television Service, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.