This weekend, I had a full circle moment with filmmaker, Georgina Lightning
. We first met in 2008, in a Minneapolis coffee shop where I interviewed her for Minnewood,
an independent film on-line resource. She was in Minnesota promoting her film, Older Than America,
which she filmed in Northern Minnesota. I found her strength and focus captivating and her vision prophetic. Three years later (this weekend), when I finally saw her film, and met her again I was reminded again of her captivating strength and focus and prophetic vision, which has now become a movement.
Her film, Older Than America tells of the atrocities, which occurred in boarding schools where American Indian children were taken from their families and traditional ways to be “reformed” into white, Christian culture. The ramifications of this “white washing” are still occurring. When asked, last Friday what the numbers are that were killed or committed suicide by the take-over which occurred, Georgina said, the numbers continue to rise, the genocide continues with deaths from drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.
There were moments in the film where I felt a primal wound within myself wrapped in intense grief and pain, and I realize how important Georgina’s work is. Through her film, and the documentaries she is working on now, she is bringing to the surface this wound, that I believe is within us all, a wound that must be healed if we as an American culture are to evolve to our full capacity. So much talk about “American Pride-” how can we be proud knowing what was done to our most Native of people and ways that are “older than America.” Imagine our America if the ignorance, arrogance and fear was not acted upon, but instead there was an embrace to learn from and accept those that were called, “savages.” Personally, I cannot be prideful until this atrocity is fully recognized and the people are fully realized back into their traditional and spiritual ways.
The deeper I travel into my soul, I find a longing to reconnect with the tribal aspect of myself. The self that is rich with knowing of both earth and sky. The wisdom which is always present, but has been suffocated by religion and greed and fear and ignorance; of people believing they understand they know more than the nature of this earth and our souls.
This is the repost of my interview with Georgina. If you feel moved, I hope you will purchase the DVD, go to the site and find ways to support and where the film might be showing, and if nothing else, send light and love to this buried wound, and see it surfacing to be healed so this country and its people can be restored- and connect with your tribal self. It knows and trusts the mystery.
By: Nikki Di Virgilio
Published: December 2nd, 2008
If you are in tune with the vibe of our nation right now, you can sense a shift of consciousness. This shift comes with messages of hope and alliance, attractive notions to many of us. However, this change can’t happen if healing and forgiveness of our wounds does not occur.
Georgina Lightning, actor and now director, is heeding the call to do her part in the healing of America. In her new movie, “Older Than America,” she is bringing to the surface a forgotten wound many of us don’t even know about. It occurred during the cultural genocide of the American Indian, where young, Indian children were taken from their homes and families and moved into boarding schools, where they could be “white-washed,” living in a culture where “Kill the Indian, save the man” was the running theme.
Through the character of Rain, played by Lightning, an Indian woman who experiences visions from the past, we catch glimpses of the atrocities, which occurred at these boarding schools, and the ramifications they still hold for those who were there and the culture as a whole. Lightning knows the ramifications firsthand. She was born into a family of survivors of these schools, including her father, businessman and Cree Indian George De Jong, who was institutionalized from age 6-18 and committed suicide when Lightning was 18.
Lightning’s intentions for her movie are clear: For both Indian and white culture to acknowledge what was done in the past, so healing can take place for themselves and each other. This healing is necessary for the Indians of yesterday and the children of today to return to their traditions and ceremonies, which are “Older Than America”.
This healing process has already begun. The Prime Minister of Canada issued a public apology to the world for what occurred in the boarding schools, and as the film tours various film festivals, it closes with standing ovations and people telling Lightning their own stories of hardship and gratitude for her efforts in sharing this tragedy.
The movie took three years to make and it’s constantly evolving. The movie continues to tour film festivals, picking up awards along the way, including “best director”. Lightning is a woman with vision and purpose. Filmmaker magazine has named her one of 25 new faces in independent film and she intends to open up the doors for women, minority women in particular.
Lightning was born in Canada. When she was 10-years-old, she saw her father stirred, while watching television and understood, at a level she couldn’t explain, the power of film and how it can touch people. She moved to Los Angeles to receive training and pursue a career in acting. Frustrated with the lack of roles and opportunities for Indians, she wanted to do something different. She became an acting coach, working on various sets. While doing so, she watched the producers and directors, saying to herself,
“I can do this.”
Lightning is also a dedicated mother of three children: Cody, Crystle and William, all artists forging forward in their purpose, just like their mother. She is a definite woman to watch. Lightning believes in the power of media, a woman who will always convey resonant messages with her work.
In December, Lightning will be leaving snowy Minnesota ,where she has been for the past 18 months, filming “Older Than America” on the Fond-du-Lac Indian reservation, and return to sunny California.
There will be a screening of her movie on February 5, 2009 at Augsburg College, and there are
plans for a regional theatrical release, DVD release and, perhaps, a television opportunity. The film is 103 minutes.
For information about her production company visit: http://www.TribalAllianceProductions.com/.