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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Fall Screenings and Pre-Orders

WAshington D.C. and Seattle City Hall

The film will be screening in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on November 2, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater. The event is free and will be followed up with a panel discussion between Rev. John Norwood (Lenni-Lenape, Co Chair of NCAI’s Taskforce for Federal Recognition), Chairman Tony Johnson (Chinook Nation) and the filmmakers. The film is being hosted by the Smithsonian in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians and the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes

In October, we will also be screening at Seattle’s City Hall in October 24, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. - the Bertha Knight Landes Room. Doors open at 5:30, with brief remarks by Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Duwamish Tribal Chair Cecile Hansen preceding the film at 5:45. They'll be joined by the filmmakers for discussion with the audience following the screening. The event is free.

We have several more screenings this fall to check out on our events page in King, Yakima, and Clark counties in Washington State, and pre-orders for the film are finally available here!

Stay tuned for more!


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

University of Washington Press and the Film

native seattle cover.jpeg

From the Desk of the Director of University of Washington Press:

"The Western Reads common book selection is just one example of how communities and readers engage with the work we publish. Another is Promised Land, a new documentary about the Duwamish and Chinook fight for treaty recognition. Several UW Press books “formed the academic framework of the film’s narrative,” as filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo puts it, including Coll Thrush’s Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over PlaceRobert T. Boyd, Kenneth Ames, and Tony Johnson’s Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia, and Jon Daehnke’s forthcoming Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River. The Seattle Theatre Group will present Promised Land on July 6, 2017, at the Neptune Theatre. The screening is free and open to the public and will include a preshow discussion with representatives from the tribes. We hope you can join us."

Read more on University of Washington Press's website.

PROMISED LAND Featured on Television

King 5, Seattle's NBC affiliate, featured Promised Land on their program, King 5 Evening, on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

Our producer and co-director Sarah was out with the flu, and couldn't join them, but co-director/editor Vasant and Duwamish tribal council member Ken Workman did a fantastic job, as did the Evening team who wrote and edited the piece. 

Check it out here: http://www.king5.com/mb/entertainment/television/programs/evening/local-tribes-fight-for-recognition-now-a-movie/386896894

Review from Indian Country Media Today Network

We're thrilled to share this review from Indian Country Media Today Network:

"Documentary on Federal Recognition ‘Promised Land’ Will Make You Mad" by Frank Hopper

"At the September 27 Seattle opening of the documentary “Promised Land,” the writer/director team of Vasant and Sarah Samudre Salcedo recalled their first meeting with Cecile Hansen, Chair of the Duwamish Tribe. They told her about the film they wanted to make of the Duwamish and Chinook fight for federal recognition.

“She said, ‘Is it going to make people mad?’” Sarah Salcedo told the near capacity audience at Seattle’s SIFF Uptown Theatre. “I said, ‘Well, it makes us mad.’ Cecile slammed her hand down on the table and said, ‘Good!’ Then she got up and left and that was the end of our first meeting.”

Now, three and a half years later, the Salcedos have created a film that follows through on that promise. It will make you mad. But it doesn’t happen all at once, it kind of creeps up on you.

The film tells the story of two Pacific Northwest tribes, the Duwamish and the Chinook, and their decades long fight to gain federal recognition. It lets the Native citizens of these two nations tell the story. There is no other narration, just Chinook and Duwamish tribal leaders as well as a few Native and non-Native leaders from other organizations and tribes talking about the effect federal recognition has on Native people."

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/26/documentary-federal-recognition-promised-land-will-make-you-mad-166204

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.

Oregon Film Premiere

Copyright Tall Firs Cinema 2016

Copyright Tall Firs Cinema 2016

From Astoria's Coast Weekend

ASTORIA — The social justice documentary Promised Land will make its Oregon premiere Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Liberty Theater, located at 1203 Commercial St.

The film chronicles the history of the lower Columbia River’s Chinook Indian Nation as well as Seattle’s Duwamish tribe, telling the story of how both tribes helped settlers and remain integral to Northwest heritage.

As both tribes, and hundreds of others like them across North America, struggle against those who tell them they don’t exist, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society look at indigenous sovereignty today.

Doors open at 12:30 p.m. and the film screening will begin at 1 p.m. The filmmakers will be in attendance.

Council members from the Chinook Indian Nation will be present to sing, drum, and share about the Chinook’s history and future. A raffle with items donated from local businesses and beautiful items crafted by tribal members will take place after the screening.

Proceeds from the raffle and a portion of ticket sales will go to support the Chinook Indian Nation.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors and military. Tickets can be purchased at ticketswest.com/events/promised-land/185000/ or by calling the Liberty Theater’s box office at 503-325-5922.

The screening is sponsored by the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The film was produced by Tall Firs Cinema. It will be released in select theaters this fall as well as several film festivals.

For more information, call the box office or reach out to the film company here.

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.


More Support from 4Culture!

Last month we were proud to announce that 4Culture had sponsored our film and would be funding our efforts to get historical photos for the film (it's more expensive and involved than anyone would hazard to guess.) That was just one component of finishing our film, however: we still needed funds to get sound, music, animation, editing, and color correction for the film (we haven't even touched finding funding for outreach yet. Ask me about that later this fall!)

This last week, 4Culture gave us a big boost to finishing the artistic side of post-production. Through their generous support and this award, we're able to get started on the film again. You have no idea what a vote of confidence this has been. Not only do we now know that we can start the work of finishing this film, but it's just been a weight off of our hearts to have someone come along and support us like this. It's the first time in the last two years that we've seen a light at the end of the tunnel. 


Read More

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.

Off the road again...

Last Tuesday, while on a road trip up and down the coast filming, we celebrated our one year anniversary working on our documentary, Promised Land. We’ve met so many great people along the way and while we wrap production in July, we know we’ve made lifelong friends up and down the coast.

We can’t wait to share this story of the Duwamish and Chinook nations fight for sovereignty with the world. Their fight for federal recognition is an important story not just for the Pacific Northwest, but for the country at large as we, as a country, consider how we honor our promises, our past and how we move forward into our future together. When we look at one small story of these regional tribes; one still lead by the descendants of Chief Seattle, the other led by the descendants of those who fed and sheltered Lewis and Clark and controlled trade up and down the coast as the West was settled; we find we’re looking through a key hole at a larger story that connects us all: the immigrants and indigenous alike. 

Consider contributing (tax-deductible donation!) to the film here. We’ll thank you in the film credits and you can be an important part of this filmmaking endeavor: http://www.sffs.org/filmmaker360/project-development/promised-land#.U3v64lhdXIX

Sponsored by San Francisco Film Society!

We’re really excited to announce that our film, Promised Land, has been sponsored by the amazing San Francisco Film Society. We’re so honored to have access to their resources, partnership and advice as we work on our documentary.

This has been an exciting journey so far, but it’s also been rough. Doing anything you love is hard because it takes all of you: all of your time, all of your resources, and most of all, your heart. You put all that you have of yourself into a creative work, and that can leave you feeling pretty vulnerable. That’s why it’s been wonderful, and an unbelievable privilege to ally with such a great force in the filmmaking world. We’re ecstatic moving forward with this amazing story having such a great vote of confidence in this film in place.

Here is the San Francisco Film Society page on our project! There’s a blurb up about the film, and a place to donate. It just means a lot to be listed on their site. The Hollywood Reporter did a fantastic article on San Francisco Film Society and how it’s become a game-changer for the film world in the last few years. Seriously, have I mentioned that we’re excited about this partnership? If I haven’t, let me know. I can keep on repeating myself.

What’s next for us? We have a lot of exciting things in the works, but we’re continuing to be tactful about when we release the full information about the film until we’ve reached a certain point in production. What you can look out for is our first trailer, which should be released within the next month!

Stay tuned and thanks for your support!

Cross-posted on sarahsamudre.tumblr.com