The Power and Potential of Native Americans: “Young Lakota”

November 22, 2013


Young Indian woman looks up in front of a dark, cloudy sky.

Sunny Clifford on the Pine Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Cine Qua Non, Inc.

“When I was little, I remember my mom sitting me down communicating to my sister and I that we could be anyone we want to be and that we can do anything that we want to do. And that sticks with me. There’s always something tugging inside of me to finish my education, and a lot of times it was just my mom in the back of my head. [I’m] constantly reminded by her to stay in school — and that’s how she raised me.”

“I want to be a woman who’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind.”

These are the words of Sunny Clifford, featured in the upcoming film Young Lakota, directed and produced by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt. It’s the story of three young people — Sunny Clifford, her twin sister, Serena Clifford, and Brandon Ferguson — living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as they try to improve their lives and the future of their tribe. When the first female president of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Cecelia Fire Thunder, defies a proposed South Dakota law criminalizing abortion by vowing to build a women’s clinic in their sovereign territory, the three young tribe members are faced with difficult choices.

Sunny and Serena Cliffod smile for the camera.

Sunny Clifford and her twin sister, Serena Clifford. Photo by Cine Qua Non, Inc.

During Native American Heritage Month, AAUW and Women and Girls Lead are showcasing films that feature outstanding Native American women leaders. This includes Young Lakota, which will air next week on PBS, and We Still Live Here and Kind Hearted Woman, which are both available free online. Join us in honoring the strength and contributions of Native American women.

Young Lakota illustrates what happens when the three young protagonists and Thunder have to decide how far they will go to change politics in their own community.

Young Lakota will premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens on Monday, November 25, 2013. Check your local listings for channels and times. Can’t watch it on PBS? There will be an online screening and filmmaker chat hosted by Women and Girls Lead on Tuesday, November 26, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Check out Young Lakota on Tumblr and Facebook. And follow #YoungLakota on Twitter. You can also find out more about Sunny Clifford’s journey since the film was made.

Young Lakota is part of the Women and Girls Lead Initiative and Native American Heritage Month. Women and Girls Lead is an innovative public media campaign designed to celebrate, educate, and activate women, girls, and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.

Gloria L. Blackwell By:   |   November 22, 2013