I enjoyed reading this post by Tim Giago regarding his take on the HBO special "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." He speaks to the problem of non-Indian people making films about Indians. Perhaps more than that, he criticizes the need Hollywood has to fall back on formulas rather than to embrace a fresh approach to story-telling.
We are accutely aware that we are not Native Americans. However, that does not mean that we are incapable of understanding and communicating the story to a documentary-viewing audience. As independent filmmakers, we answer only to ourselves during the creative process. There are no number-crunching studio production executives dictating story changes based on focus groups and demographic targets. Our films are not created by committee. Instead, they are created by collaboration with our subjects and with others with expertise in filmmaking, history, anthropology, and other related fields. There is great freedom in our situation, but also great responsibility.
It's important to remember that we do not regard our film as the end-all account of the Ioway people. Just one account that can be used as part of a more comprehensive exploration of this topic. There will still be room for a historical documentary by an Ioway tribal member that expresses a unique Native American viewpoint on the story. In the meantime, we toil intently toward the completion of "Lost Nation: The Ioway" and hope that most who see our film will enjoy this dramatic and unique Native American story.