Promised Land

An award-winning documentary, PROMISED LAND, a social justice film on the Duwamish and Chinook tribes, their fight for restoration, and what the federal recognition process says about indigenous sovereignty today.


Indian Country Media Network, "Documentary on Federal Recognition ‘Promised Land’ Will Make You Mad"

Excerpt: "The film is about federal recognition, yes, but on a deeper level it’s about how to be an Indian in the modern world, how to fight even if you’re an elderly lady or a terminally ill man, how to take joy from the fight because of the friends you make, and most importantly, how to face death bravely and with honor, recognizing it as a transition and not an end."

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King 5 Evening Interview with Vasant Salcedo, co-director and editor of Promised Land, and Ken Workman, Duwamish Tribal Councilmember

Excerpt: "They were here long before the rest of us, but since 1974 the Duwamish Tribe has no longer been recognized by the federal government.
'It's heart-wrenching,' said tribal council member Ken Workman, a descendant of Seattle's namesake, Chief Si'ahl."



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Professor Brian Klopotek, University of Oregon: "Promised Land powerfully documents the tortured politics of the federal acknowledgment process, as well as the resilience of tribal life outside the federal purview for the Chinook Indian Nation and the Duwamish Tribe. The screening at the University of Oregon, which featured a panel discussion afterward with Chinook tribal leaders and the filmmakers, drew a large and energetic crowd. The film and the panel discussion were lively, memorable, and very educational." 

Kimberly Tate-Malone, Seattle Central College: "For many reasons, Promised Land is an extremely important and timely documentary.  Bringing the film, filmmakers and tribal representatives to the Seattle Central College campus provided an opportunity that many students have never had before -- a chance to learn about the history and people of the land we occupy. Being able to expose students to the histories and continuing efforts of the Duwamish and Chinook tribes was an excellent experience, one that students, faculty, and staff alike enjoyed."

Jo Anderson Cavinta, Diversity Services Coordinator for King County Library System: "Promised Land [took place] at the KCLS Renton Library, newly rebuilt directly over the Cedar River.  The vast majority of the audience stayed for the post-film discussion, which included filmmakers Vasant and Sarah Salcedo, Ken Workman (Duwamish Councilmember) and Aaron Jones (Chinook Indian Nation, UW Professor). Attendees complimented the beauty of the cinematography and were moved to know how to personally support the cause."

Elissa Washuta, author, Cowlitz Tribe: "Everyone should see this--including everyone who lives on occupied Indigenous land in the US, everyone from tribes with and without federal acknowledgment of their existence. This documentary is about the Duwamish and Chinook tribes and their fights for federal recognition, but it's also a seriously thorough discussion of sovereignty, the government-to-government relationship, the absurdly difficult process of achieving federal acknowledgment, and so much more (I couldn't believe how much ground this film covered). Even though the Cowlitz Indian Tribe only received federal recognition in 2002 after many years and a lot of effort, while I watched the film last night, I was acutely aware of what that recognition allows us that our Duwamish and Chinook friends don't have--like the application of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This film is a powerful statement on the endurance of the Chinook and Duwamish tribes despite federal government efforts to eliminate them. Colonization is not over. We can see it happening in so many ways, including the federal government's denial of that these two tribes and others even exist, that they are, and have always been, sovereign nations. There will be many more showings of this film. Watch it and invite your friends. Contact the filmmakers if you want to arrange a showing at your school or in your town. The film is important and it's intensely beautiful. (The inside of the Chinook longhouse---!!!!!)"

Professor Connie So, University of Washington: "Vasant and Sarah Salcedo’s documentary Promised Land debuted in 2016.  Since then, it has been shown at several distinguished film festivals and conferences.  On November 2016, I had the pleasure of viewing the film with over 100 guests at a Native American Heritage celebration hosted by the American Ethnic Studies department at the University of Washington.  The event was interactive and the audience was treated to a special performance by Tribal Elders. The key feature, of course, is Promised Land, an award-winning social justice documentary on the Duwamish and Chinook tribes, their fight for restoration, and what the federal recognition process says about indigenous sovereignty today.  The story is told without a narrator.  Instead, there are interviews with a descendant of Chief Si'ahl (for whom the city of Seattle is named), the current leaders of the tribes, and other members of the Duwamish and Chinook tribes.   The story they tell is heart-wrenching and, at the same time, inspiring.  While it is about “aboriginal identity, blood quantum, and the struggle of indigenous communities for self-determination,” it is also about determination.  I would encourage anyone interested in the struggles of aboriginal people and social justice to view this important film."

Lisa Kauffman, Host of West Seattle Meaningful Movies: "The West Seattle Meaningful Movies, along with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, showed Promised Land on January 7, 2017, in West Seattle. It was an excellent evening. Ken Workman, a member of the Duwamish Tribe, opened the program with a blessing and some information about the tribe. Then one of the filmmakers, Vasant Salcedo, introduced the movie. The audience responded very well to this beautiful film. Ken Workman stayed for a lively post-film discussion in which he answered many questions and shared his perspectives on nature, the tribe, and their struggle for federal recognition."