While I was making the film STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote, one of the stories I followed was about irregularities in New Mexico during the 2004 Presidential election. The final tallies in New Mexico were controversial. Complaints ranged from people voting for "Kerry" and seeing "Bush" appear on the touch screens, to huge discrepancies between how many people voted and how many votes were tallied. In addition, people in New Mexico reported ongoing disenfranchisement of Native American voters, with those problems reaching a crescendo in the 2004 Presidential election.
Voting rights advocates suggested I introduce myself to the Laguna tribe. Their story encapsulated some of the most egregious examples of voting problems in New Mexico, as well as across the country in 2004.
I followed the Laguna story through 2010, weaving together the problems they'd faced with growing activism among tribal members.
While documenting that story, I learned about another group of Native people who had, in recent years, fought to preserve the Sacred Petroglyphs in Albuquerque. They tried to use voting to further their cause, but that effort met with various difficulties. I decided to put these two stories together. Juxtaposed, they reveal multiple facets of both disenfranchisement and mushrooming activism among Native People.
Narrated by PETER COYOTE, this film follows Native Americans in New Mexico taking a stand against injustice in the political process. Personal stories demonstrate how minority communities are using their voting rights as they participate more fully in elections. These stories capture a microcosm of growing awareness and activism which is taking root across the United States. In addition to documenting the Native American suffrage movement historically, the film follows a groundbreaking project led by the Laguna, Native community. Their efforts leads to significant positive changes in New Mexico state election law. We also follow the creation of the Native American Voters Alliance and their efforts to protect petroglyphs located on Sacred Land. These stories serve as a models for how other minority populations throughout the U.S. can work together to make sure they have a voice in elections, so they can cast their votes and that their votes will be counted.
“... both heartbreaking and eye opening. A 'must see' to understand how fragile our democracy is”
KVOT Taos, NM
“Emotions run deep when viewing this insightful political documentary. The story blends sincere efforts to achieve political clout with unfortunate results that, somehow, do not shut down the hopes of Native voters in New Mexico.”
ROBIN H. LEVIN
Fort Washakie School/Community Librarian, Wyoming
“This film weaves together two documentary stories: each drama moves from
disenfranchisement to realization to taking action. Interviews include people from Laguna, Acoma, Taos, Ohkay Owingeh, the Navajo nation.plus Chicano/a voices and more. The story is woven artistically and succinctly-in less than one hour.”
KUNM-TV Albuquerque, New Mexico