2631 N. Sacramento, #2
Chicago, IL 60647 USA
773/517.3132 info@prairiedustfilms.com


News & Events

Chicago, IL —Dec 2011

In the summer of 2010 we began development on a new project, Crying Earth Rise Up, a feature documentary and multi-platform engagement project addressing the impact modern uranium extraction has on the land, our water and our communities. We received funding from Native American Public Telecommunications in the winter of 2011 and began full production in May of 2011 and we are currently in the middle of production.

The border of Nebraska and South Dakota is home to the High Plains/Oglala aquifer – North America’s largest underground fresh water source. Within this region is nestled the town of Crawford, Nebraska, site of the Crow Butte uranium mine. Here a debate is raging over recently discovered contaminated water and the future of the uranium mine. Some residents and geologists claim that mining has contaminated the groundwater with radon and toxic heavy metals, while others and the mine’s owner insist that the practice is safe, the energy clean and are seeking permission to expand operations.

Aside from impact on water, local community members are concerned what would happen to their small town if the mine that keeps it running leaves. Crying Earth Rise Up intimately chronicles the parallel stories of community organizers, families, scientists, Native Americans, environmental lawyers, ranchers, farmers and concerned citizens as they battle over the future of uranium mining. Set within a region known for its frontier history and sovereign battles, this film brings together people who are more accustomed to maintaining a distance than uniting over an environmental struggle. The feature film is scheduled for release in late 2012 with companion shorts released over the next few months. Crying Earth Rise Up is a production of Prairie Dust Films who is working in collaboration with Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) and the Lakota Media Project.

Aside from our feature, Prairie Dust Films works on grassroots videos with our Peoples Media Project. Check out what we have so far and look for new videos from the streets that will be ready for online distribution over the next year- showcasing a variety of social justice issues that are at the forefront of necessary changes in our country.

Chicago, IL and Portland, OR —Jan 2009

It's been awhile since we posted news, so to start off 2009 right here's our latest update...
Prairie Dust Films has been busy doing outreach and distribution on our feature, Standing Silent Nation. Although the film has been successful in its endeavors, successs will not be reached until the Lakota and people everywhere are truly sovereign.
It's been one year since the White Plumes' devastating fire. In the course of the year, a temporary home was constructed that is to become the Owe Aku organizational offices once the eco home is built. Sadly, the White Plumes still can't grow hemp, but with the changes happening in federal policies toward non-petroleum based energy solutions, we have hope that people will take a serious look at industrial hemp. (Currently, in North Dakota, farmers are in court asserting their right to grow hemp after failing to hear from the DEA on their permit request. Read the details on the Vote Hemp website.) Despite the many challenges and changes the past year has brought to the White Plumes, they also waged a campaign in 2008 against uranium mining on tribal and federal lands. Please see below for more information.
In 2008 Standing Silent Nation graced the screens from India to Quebec, to the Red Rocks of Utah and the San Francisco Bay. We have played during hurricanes in Cuba and in churches in Oregon. We will soon have a version of the film translated into Spanish, which will extend the reach of the White Plume's story even further. The film has been well-received by audiences, who all seem to ask the same questions: how can what happened to the White Plumes be true and what can we do to help? Help has come in many forms, from monetary donations to spreading the word, but true change won't occur until industrial hemp is legalized. As other countries continue to profit off of the hemp boom, we are still fighting for legalization, and are hopeful that 2009 will be the year.
Aside from our feature, Prairie Dust Films has been busy creating video projects for non-profits and independent clients. From subjects ranging from artists -in-residency programs working with pediatric patients to American Indian internship opportunities with the federal government, our work strives to support our mission.

Washington, DC —Nov 2008

Owe Aku gains ground in big battle against Cameco, a Canadian owned company with a record of environmentally detrimental practices and one of the world's largest uranium producers. Cameco has proposed new mines northwest of Crawford, Nebraska. Mining at Crow Butte would disrupt the water tables on Native lands and western United States. The Atomic Licensing Board ruled in favor of the petition. Learn more about efforts to defend sacred water at savecrowbutte.org.
"Canadian-owned Crow Buttes Resources, Inc. (CBR) is asking the NRC for a permit to expand uranium mining in and around petitioners towns, farms, and Indian territories. Petitioners assert that CBR's process currently consumes and contaminates 4.7 billion gallons of water per year from the High Plains Aquifer which is also the water source to communities in eight western states. Petitioners are asking the NRC for a chance to submit evidence that a slow-moving, underground radioactive plume of contaminated water is moving through several inter-connected aquifers-the Arikaree, Brule and High Plains aquifers. The Arikaree aquifer lies directly under the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Petitioners believe there is a link between 98 wells that were closed on the Western side of the Reservation because of radioactive contamination and unusual incidences of cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, miscarriages and infant brain seizures" read full press release here.

Colorado Springs, CO —August 2008

The University Film and Video Association awarded Best Documentary Faculty Award to Courtney Hermann (producer/director) of Standing Silent Nation. Courtney teaches digital media at the Art Institute in Portland, OR. The UFVA celebrated it's 62 Conference August 12-16. Founded in 1947, the UFVA has developed into an organization of almost 800 professionals and institutions involved in the production and study of film, video, and other media arts. It's an international organization where media production and writing meets the history, theory and criticism of the media.

The World Wide Web — Standingsilentation.com is live! -July 2007



New York, NY — July 2007

Prairie Dust Films is honored to report that Standing Silent Nation has been included in the 20th anniversary season of the award-winning PBS documentary series POV/American Documentary. The documentary will be broadcast nationally on July 3, 2007, just in time for Independence Day. Please visit POV’s website to learn more about POV, to watch the trailer, or to set up an e-mail reminder for the broadcast. http://www.pov.org


The World Wide Web -- July 2007

Order your copy of Standing Silent Nation to share with others. Proceeds from the DVD sales will go to the outreach initiatives in support of the documentary.

Denver, CO -- June 2007

Suree Towfighnia and Courtney Hermann will be in Denver, Colorado to screen Standing Silent Nation for the Native American Journalists Association conference on Friday, June 8th. For information on hosting a screening of the film in Denver during that weekend, please contact us at info@prairiedustfilms.com and put “Denver Screening” in the subject line.

The World Wide Web -- May 2007

Hey, where’d you get that cool shirt? You can now purchase Prairie Dust Films merchandise through Café Press at our webstore: www.cafepress.com/prairiedust (T-shirts, hats, baby clothes, stickers, and much more). Proceeds from the sales go directly to costs associated with distributing the film and to our work with the Lakota Media Project on Pine Ridge.

The World Wide Web -- November 2006

Standing Silent Nation has a myspace page up at www.myspace.com/standingsilentnation. Learn more about the film, upcoming events and share comments.

New York, NY -- October 2006

Prairie Dust Films was awarded a grant for outreach and education in support of Standing Silent Nation from the Funding Exchange/Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media. Named to honor singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson, the Fund supports media activism and grassroots organizing by funding the pre-production and distribution of social issue film and video projects and the production and distribution of radio projects, made by local, state, national or international organizations and individual media producers.

Pine Ridge, SD -- July 2006

Alex White Plume was appointed President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe after the suspension and impeachment of Cecilia Fire Thunder. Alex plans to run in the Tribal Elections this fall.

St. Louis, MO -- May 17, 2006

United States v. White Plume
U.S. Court of Appeals Case No. 05-1654 and No. 05-1656
District of South Dakota
[PUBLISHED] [Beam, Author, with Bye and Gruender, Circuit Judges]
Civil case

The US District Court of Appeals ruled against the White Plume’s appeal (Case No. 05-1654). Stating:

District court did not err in finding defendants had violated
the Controlled Substances Act by cultivating, without DEA
registration, industrial hemp on federal trust land; industrial
hemp is subject to the controls set out in the Controlled
Drug Act; the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868 did not grant a
treaty right to farm hemp; the Controlled Drug Act does not violate the defendants' substantive due process rights.

For the full opinion of the court, visit the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals website at: http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov. Or to listen to the audio recordings visit: ftp://8cc-www.ca8.uscourts.gov/OAaudio/2005/12/051654.mp3

St. Louis, MO – December 2005

A Standing Silent Nation crew traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, to observe and film the appellant hearing for the White Plume family’s hemp case. Ramona White Plume (Alex White Plume’s sister and a defendant in the case), her son Gabe White Plume and Tatanka White Plume traveled from Manderson, South Dakota, to represent the family. The team of lawyers was granted 20 minutes to present their argument for appeal before three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to state their case. The Judges validated the importance of the case by allowing five extra minutes to hear additional answers to their questions. After the hearing, members of the press talked with the appellants and aired their stories in St. Louis and on the AP wires. A decision on the appeal is expected within 6-9 months.

Chicago, IL -- August 2005

Prairie Dust Films is pleased to announce the hiring of Sharon Karp to edit Standing Silent Nation. Sharon Karp (proprietor of Media Monster in Chicago, IL) brings to the collaboration over 30 years of experience working in documentary. An original member of the collective at Kartemquin Films, Sharon’s documentaries are a testament her skill in crafting a beautiful story from a mound of footage. Among her award-winning films are the Emmy-nominated Silent Pioneers, Chicago Film Festival Silver Hugo Winner The Chicago Maternity Center Story, and Return of Navajo Boy, a Sundance Film Festival official selection. Her most recent projects include The Innocent, winner of the Crystal Heart Award for documentary feature, about people wrongly sentenced to death, and Burnt Oranges, winner of the Cine Golden Eagle Award, about state terrorism in Argentina during the 1970's. The documentary will be edited on the Avid Adrenaline system and mastered to Digibeta, DVD, DV, and Quicktime. We look forward to working with Sharon.

Manderson, SD -- June 2005

Prairie Dust Films is collaborating with Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) on the Lakota Media Project, a project designed to provide technical video skills to youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation. These workshops help youth use video for social change work in their community. Their first project “The Sacredness of Water” is in production.

Lincoln, NE -- December 2004

Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT) announced their intentions to award a generous grant to our fiscal agent, Documentary Educational Resources, to support the production of Standing Silent Nation. NAPT's organizational mission is to "support the creation, promotion and distribution of Native public media." http://www.nativetelecom.org


Pine Ridge, SD November 2004

Alex White Plume won the race for Tribal Vice-President. He defeated his opponent by a margin of 2,853 votes to 1,986 votes. Alex hopes to restore cultural pride within the education system and stimulate more economic development in the districts outside of the town of Pine Ridge.

Chicago, IL -- September 2004

Through our fiscal agent, Documentary Educational Resources, the Playboy Foundation awarded Standing Silent Nation a media grant. Playboy Foundation is the corporate giving program of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., which "recognizes the power of film and video to inform the public, identify injustice and advocate change." http://www.playboyenterprises.com





Thank you for your interest in Prairie Dust Films. All donations, of any size, are greatly appreciated and will go toward the production of Standing Silent Nation.

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