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.

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Chinook Nation Lawsuit Update!

Chinook Nation citizens gather in Tacoma to celebrate a successful day in court.  // Photo by Sarah Salcedo, 2018.

Chinook Nation citizens gather in Tacoma to celebrate a successful day in court. // Photo by Sarah Salcedo, 2018.

Since the debut of our film, a wonderful thing has happened for the Chinook Nation: a team of lawyers has offered to represent their case pro-bono.


They filed suit in August 2017, and in May of 2018, was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton. The courthouse was packed with Chinook Nation members, allies from the community, and representatives from other Pacific Northwest nations such Puyallup, Grand Ronde, Duwamish, and others.  

Seven out of eight claims made by the lawyers for the Chinook in this case have been allowed to proceed, and the BIA's initial call to dismiss was rejected by the Judge. 

Journalist Natalie St. John gives an excellent summation of the legal victory and what comes next for the tribe that you can read here in the Chinook Observer

The film goes to California...

The film has been selected to be part of the 41st Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. We're also excited to come down to California with another fantastic Pacific Northwest film, Maiden of Deception Pass. Both will play the afternoon of November 7 at AIFF.

The film was also selected to be part of the 10th Annual LA Skins Fest. The film will play at the historic TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 20 at 1 p.m. The film was also nominated for an "Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking" award at the festival.

Both the Duwamish and Chinook tribal councils will be represented at these events and speak on the panels afterwards to raise awareness for their causes.

Hayu masi and ck'wálidxw to the American Indian Film Institute and LA Skins Fest for these amazing honors and for giving the film the space to share its message.

The Film Is Finished!

We have fantastic news: Promised Land is officially finished. While it is still awaiting its official Pacific Northwest debut, it's already been seen by several North American festivals and won small awards. 

We are currently in the process of planning the film's festival and university tour. Though the film begins in a specific region, the story it tells is one that countless tribes are going through not only throughout North America, but throughout the world as well. The film ends by expanding its focus to issues such as aboriginal identity, blood quantum, and the struggle of indigenous communities for self-determination. We also just won a grant from 4Culture that will enable us to develop interactive educational materials that will help engage audiences and our educational partners with the history and current events discussed in the film, sharing an even greater depth of information than we had time to provide.

We hope to partner with aboriginal communities around world wherever our film is screened to help draw attention to all issues of self-determination that all bands and tribes face in every country.  This film is presented without a narrator, so that only the voices of the tribal members themselves, along with their allies, are the ones presenting the story. We hope that all our showings will be avenues for indigenous voices to meet with the community and have their voices heard. We don't want to be the ones doing the speaking; that's never been a goal of the film, to promote ourselves as artists. The goal of this film is to raise awareness of the complex and unjust struggle that the Duwamish, Chinook, and countless tribes like them go through concerning recognition, enrollment issues, blood quantum, and the like. 

We will be updating the site in the next month with preliminary dates for showings, a new trailer, and more exciting news about partnerships for the film's outreach journey. The poster above (which was designed by the filmmakers and the bear illustration was created by Port Gamble S'Kallam artist, Jeffrey Veregge, who does a lot of work for Marvel and Nike and graciously added his graphic stylings to elements in the film) and the news about 4Culture is just the first of many updates we'll be posting about in the coming months. We look forward to sharing these things and of course, the film itself, with you all this summer.


An amazing man, Ray Gardner, Chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, passed away yesterday.

Vasant and I interviewed Ray last summer for our film, Promised Land - Documentary. At the end of our interview, Ray asked if he could record a bit more and he shared with us what he felt his life meant and what he had learned about living life to fullest, despite his disease. We were grieved to hear of his passing and knew it was time to share the words that Ray had given us for this time, with his wife's blessing and the blessing of acting Chinook Indian Nation Chairman, Sam Robinson.

We knew this day was coming, but we're still so shaken up by the loss of him. We were privileged to be able to spend time with him, to have him take part in the documentary, and we will feel his impact on our lives for years to come.