Eighth Annual Festival

Something’s Moving

7:14 min
Director: Randy Vasquez
Producer: Jonathan Skurnik

Winner of the Unspoken Truth Award


More About Something’s Moving from Director Randy Vasquez

Imagine being taken from your family before the age of seven and sent to live in a cavernous dormitory where you are beaten for speaking the only language you know. This massive, but tragically failed effort to assimilate American Indians was US government policy until the 1970s. Something’s Moving explores the reality and legacy of American Indian boarding schools through the voices and stories of survivors, and follows their courageous attempts at healing themselves, their families, and their communities from this little-known and seminal 20th century trauma.

My inspiration for this film was the discovery that the cause for the main stereotypes of Native Americans — alcoholism — is in large part due to the boarding school experience. It’s as if this reality had been kept a secret from me as well as the rest of the country. And, like shedding light on the Salvadoran experience in my previous film Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story, I wanted to do the same with this film.

For over a hundred years and well into the 1970s, Native American children were removed from their families and enrolled in US government and church-run boarding schools, which were usually cold brick buildings where they were brutally punished for engaging in any aspect of their cultural heritage. Those that didn’t die of disease or suicide entered adulthood with untreated complex post-traumatic stress that was unconsciously inflicted upon the next generation through alcoholism, drug addiction and child abuse.

Through the vivid stories of our main characters — 65 year old Walter Littlemoon, Lakota of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and Kateri Walker, Saginaw Shippewa from Midland, Michigan — and the supporting voices of other boarding school survivors, Something’s Moving tells the stories of Native youth who were separated from their families, their culture, their spirituality and their identity. Along with other survivors representing tribes from various regions of the US, our characters retell the devastating impact the schools have had on their lives. But more importantly, they demonstrate the vulnerability, fortitude and bold actions required to pass that healing on to the next generation.

The reaction to this film has been one of encouragement from the Native community. Many Native academics and counselors have shown much interest in the project as an educational tool. Kateri Walker’s efforts to save her boarding school in Michigan failed and the building was demolished last November.

You can view the website for the full-length documentary at indianboardingschoolmovie.com.


Eighth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival, family & society, economic justice, human rights, politics / government, racial justice
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works


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