Nanette Bradley Deetz in Entertainment. Discussion »
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA The new film entitled, “The Cherokee Word for Water: A Journey that Transformed a Nation” was one of the most important projects the late Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller began before her sad and untimely passing. Her last wish to her husband, Director Charlie Soap, her friends and family members, was that this film be completed.
The screening was attended by three hundred members of the San Francisco Bay Area American Indian community, many who knew Mankiller and her family during the many years she spent at Intertribal Friendship House. This very special event began with dinner prepared by Intertribal Friendship House, and a prayer for our food was offered by Mary Jean Robertson.
“This event tonight, at Intertribal Friendship House is one of the warmest, most welcoming places I have visited with this film, and we have been invited to many places. I want to thank each and every one of you for attending tonight,”
said Charlie Soap, director.
“The Cherokee Word for Water” is a film that has taken twenty-four years to complete, and this true story reflects the time, courage, careful discernment, compassion, dedication and love for the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller carried with her and extended to everyone she met, everywhere she traveled. It was wonderful to have so many members of her family present; one of her daughters, Gina Olaya and her brother Charles Mankiller. In addition, three of Wilma's best friends attended, Linda Aranaydo, Lou Trudell and Melanie Sweeney, who produced this exquisite film.
“The Cherokee Word for Water” remained true to Wilma Mankiller's original intent by resisting the efforts of casting directors to allow non native actors for this film. It was filmed entirely in Oklahoma, on Cherokee Nation land, and with many Cherokee actors and actresses. Wilma Mankiller's granddaughter, Brianna sings in this film, and we see and hear her beautiful voice. The Cherokee Word for Water is a true story, and a love story about Wilma Mankiller and Charlie Soap. It is about the first project the former Principal Chief organized for the Cherokee Nation, and gadugi, the Cherokee word that means working together as a community.
The film begins with Wilma Mankiller driving home to Mankiller Flats with her two daughters in order to live near her mother, and to work with the Cherokee Nation. Her family has survived the Trail of Tears and the Removal Act that brought them to the San Francisco Bay Area, and she knows they will not only survive, but will thrive.
It is a happy scene, with music playing on the radio. She is eager to work for the Cherokee Nation, as we watch her settling into her new home, with courage and joy while helping her daughters adjust. This film portrays the tragic car accident accurately, and we feel her pain as she courageously and patiently heals from this. She writes constantly about her belief in herself and the Cherokee Nation.
Her first project for the Cherokee Nation was to build a water line that brought running water over 300 miles, beginning with one of the poorest towns in the Cherokee Nation. Former Principal Chief Swimmer hired Wilma Mankiller and Charlie Soap for this project, but they first had to convince the many different communities within the Cherokee Nation to build the entire project themselves, on a volunteer basis.
The Cherokee Nation could only provide money for equipment, and this film accurately portrays the courage and dedication of Wilma Mankiller as she overcame each obstacle in her life, because of her belief in gadugi. The entire film is about this word, and we hear it many times.
Actress Kimberly Guerrero portrays Wilma Mankiller, and reminds us of the intelligence, patience, courage, compassion, and beauty the former principal chief personified. Actor Mo Brings Plenty portrays Charlie Soap and brings to his role the intelligence, compassion, care, and humor of Soap. Oren Lyons is cast as Charlie Soap's grandfather and brings a patient, compassionate and caring love for his grandson to this role. Wilma Mankiller's mother is portrayed with such grace, intelligence, patience, honesty, and compassion by Deanna Dunagan, that it was a joy to see and hear her every word.
This film brought tears to my eyes, and to many who viewed it, because of the recent Dustin Brown case against the Cherokee Nation, and attack on the Indian Child Welfare Act.
This film celebrates Cherokee people and the Cherokee Nation for the compassion, courage, intelligence, and caring we have for one another.
“One of the things Wilma always believed in was the talent and creativity that Cherokee people have. That is why we are so proud to show this film,”
said Soap with tears in his eyes. The excellent acting, singing, musical score, directing and writing of this film proves that Wilma Mankiller's belief in Cherokee talent, courage and gadugi is true.
“The Cherokee Word for Water”, is from Kamama Films. It is directed by Charlie Soap and Tim Kelly, and written by Tim Kelly, Gary Miranda, and Louis Rubacky. This beautiful film will be shown at the 38th Annual American Indian Film Festival on November 2 and November 3 at the Delancey Street Theater in San Francisco.
To host a screening of "The Cherokee Word for Water" go to www.tugg.com.
Nanette Bradley Deetz is of Dakota, Cherokee and German descent. She is a poet, writer, educator and sometimes musician whose poetry appears in several anthologies. The most current is "Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down," published by Scarlett Tanager Press; "Turtle Island to Abya Yala, A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women," Malinalli Press, and "Alameda Island Theme Poems, 2004,2005 & 2006. " She combines poetry and music in her band, Redbird Giving which performs at many Bay Area native and non-native venues. She is a correspondent for the Alameda Journal, Alameda Sun and Native News Network.
updated October 30, 2013 11:57 am edt; posted October 28, 2013 8:30 am edt