BY: MICHELLE SIMON
The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation hosted a screening of Amá on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at the Rock Building to a gathering of approximately 20 people. The documentary brings to light the abuse of forced sterilization in the 1960’s and 70’s against Native American women sanctioned by the United States government through policies against poverty.
Amá, which means mother in Navajo, features testimony from three women, Jean Whitehorse of the Navajo Nation, Yvonne Swan of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, along with Charon Aseytoyer of the Comanche Nation. The film also includes an interview with Dr. Reimart Ravenholt who supplied ideas on population control to the U.S. government which were later used to create policy adversely impacting Native American women. The film closes with a call to action for a formal apology from the American government, with the potential to seek a class action lawsuit. To sign the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/united-states-government-to-offer-public-apology-to-native-american-women-who-were-victims-of-forced-sterilization.
The film took over 9 years for filmmaker Lorna Tucker to capture and compose. It was co-produced by Raindog Films, a London-based production company helmed by Academy-award winning actor Colin Firth and prolific film producer Ged Doherty, and the Roddick Foundation according to the Amá movie website, amamovie.com.
At the close of the film, Aseytoyer who was on-site for the screening addressed the audience and shared a little about herself and the work she does on the Yankton Sioux Reservation through the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center. She also stated that the American government, along with other world leaders and world health organizations are now researching new sterilization methods that could be delivered through vaccines and prompted attendees to investigate this information further and remain vigilant in protecting oneself from unwanted sterilization.
The idea to bring the film to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Common Land came from PBPN tribal member Enedina Banks, who originally witnessed a screening in April 2019, while presenting at the 18th Session of the United Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Banks is a resident of Shawnee, Okla. and she also arranged a screening of Amá for the Citizen Band Potawatomi community on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.