By: Michelle Simon
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairman Joseph Rupnick was interviewed by independent filmmakers Joshua Nathan and Patrick Ross today at the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Government Center for their documentary, “Kansas an Eclogue.”
Chairman Rupnick’s commentary, along with accounts from the Delaware, Kaw, and Osage Nations will be incorporated into the documentary that focuses on the past, present and future of the state of Kansas.
“This film will afford the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation an opportunity to educate viewers about our history, status as a sovereign nation, our jurisdiction, and the services provided to tribal members,” stated Rupnick.
The feature-length documentary was initially spurred by the limited perceptions of Kansas encountered by the co-directors after relocating to Los Angeles. “Kansas is viewed in a very stereotypical way,” said Ross, “people think it is flat and not much more than that.” With their film, the two KU alumni hope to break the American cultural stereotype of Kansas and according to Ross, “bring forth a view of the state that is more representative of reality and the beauty of Kansas.”
In 2015, Nathan and Ross, former residents of Moundridge and Lawrence, Kan. respectively, embarked on a 700-plus-mile walk across the state of Kansas filming their journey and the people they encountered along the way. The pair zig-zagged across the state using the 8 Wonders of Kansas as a loose guide, but mainly allowed their walking and the serendipity inherent in life to lead them.
The team of two captured the pastoral essence of Kansas and learned a lot about their home state, including a culture of walking inherent in the state. With 35 hours of digital recording in tow, they headed back to L.A. and have spent the past four years editing their content. Through that process, they realized they had not adequately captured the voices of the Native peoples tied to this land.
Nathan and Ross applied for and received a charitable contribution award from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in March 2019. These funds have been used to include the accounts of tribal nations with significant historical roots in Kansas into the film.
The duo hopes to release “Kansas an Eclogue” within the coming year according to Nathan and they intend to show the finished work at film festivals, on a Kansas tour and potentially PBS. To keep up with the status of the film, more can be found on their Facebook page “Kansas an Eclogue.”