In the Fall of 2015, myself and four other English Master’s students at the University of Oklahoma formed an independent film group for a class titled Indigenous Cinema taught by Dr. Joshua Nelson. Though our film group was started as a class assignment to either write an analysis of a film or create a film (we chose the latter), the film group has continued to grow beyond the classroom.Our film group, Prairie Lands Production, derives its name from the prairie lands of Oklahoma and the surrounding states, a place we all find a sense of home. Our name helps us remember, as Haeyoung writes, “places have the power to shape identities and the stories related to them. hile our projects may eventually leave the prairie regions, the name reminds us to never forget the importance of places new and familiar. We find films help to recognize the meaningful depths of our surroundings whether tied to a river, grassland, suburb, or cityscape” (Prairie Lands Film).
Our first project titled Sun (made under the production name Kitty Roosevelt Productions), created for Dr. Nelson’s Indigenous Cinema class, is a documentary that follows the story of Abraham Whiteweasel and his determination to attend Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, despite hardships related to health and home.
We are currently in the editing stage of a documentary titled Our Kansas, a play on the of the way folks in Southwestern Kansas pronounce the ‘Arkansas’ in Arkansas River, about the sense of place and community people feel about their home state. This doc explores drought culture and the depletion of the Ogallala aquifer in Southwestern Kansas in the towns of Cimarron, Sublette, and Dodge City.
Look for more updates about our forthcoming documentary here: Prairie Lands Film.