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Bois Forte News • January 2010 • Page 11

Minneapolis teen finds confidence in filmmaking

Eighteen-year-old David Sam is proof that any trial can be turned into a triumph.

For years the young Band member from Minneapolis, the son of Teresa Sam, endured bullying. His interest in filmmaking, meanwhile, receded. He was in survival mode. He was trying to keep quiet, to go unnoticed.

David produced a 3:46 minute video titled “This Is Me” about his experience being bullied. The process was pretty easy for him; he was finally releasing a story he’d held within him for many years. “This Is Me” combines arresting film

“I was bullied because I was fat and different,” said David, who graduated from Four Directions Charter School in Minneapolis last spring. “I liked to wear black clothes, and everyone thought I was gothic. They said I was satanic.”

Using iMovie, a program designed by Apple, (Madeline Island cont. from page 10)

History of Madeline Island

Moningwanekaaning Minis (Madeline Island), one of the 22 Apostle Islands in Lake Superior near Bayfield, Wisconsin, has been the sacred center of the Anishinaabeg people for centuries. Moningwanekaaning Minis, place of the goldenshafted flicker, is mentioned as the prophesied seventh stopping place of the long Ojibwe migration from the East in Eddie Benton Banai’s book, The Mishomis.

The American Government signed the 1842 and the 1854 Treaties with the Chippewa there and held annunity payments at LaPointe each summer because the Island was a major Anishinaabeg settlement. Bizhiki, (also known as Chief Buffalo) headman of the LaPointe Band, successfully traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with President Millard Fillmore to object to the 1850 Removal Order and the Sandy JA N UA RY

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“It was the artist in me that helped me to regain my self esteem and confidence,” David says in the conclusion. “I began to make new friends, lose weight, and I even learned how to play guitar. I’m a filmmaker now, a photographer and a musician. I still don’t feel accepted, but I don’t care. I no longer let other people’s hatred get to me. There’s no room for it.”

Much to David’s surprise, “This Is Me” has garnered national praise. “I’m just shocked,” he said. “When I first made it, I didn’t think anyone would watch it or like it. I was just thinking it would be a little personal piece that I’d keep with myself. It turned out a lot of people like it.”

Then one day, David decided to take a stand. He spoke up, stood up for himself and made new friends. And, best of all, his passion for filmmaking was rekindled, thanks to Kristine Sorensen, director of In Progress, who leads artistic workshops for young Band members. “She’s my mentor,” David said.

The project Kris assigned in 2008, to produce a video about a hardship overcome, unlocked David’s talent and brought him healing. “It was the first non-comedic piece I’d ever made,” he said. “I was out of my element. It was strange for me to do this. But I like a challenge, so I rose to it.”

techniques, compelling pictures and a profound narrative.

So much, in fact, that it has screened at film festivals across the country, including Chicago, Santa Fe, Fargo, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

David’s work was honored at the Native American Film & Video Festival in New York City.

Lake Tragedy. Bizhiki is buried on the Island along with Chief Oshaga and other historic Ojibwe leaders. There are descendants of Chief Buffalo’s family among the Bois Forte Band today.

Today, mostly summer residents and a few hardy year-round folks inhabit the Island. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa still retains title to a small amount of land (55 acres) on Amnicon Point at the far northeastern tip of the 14-mile long island. Though tribal members mostly left the Island after the 1854 Treaty and settled on the newly established Bad River Reservation and the Red Cliff Reservation, many Anishinaabeg people return to the Island on an annual basis. Many come on the important dates of Memorial Day and on Sept. 30, which is the anniversary of the signing of the 1854 Treaty. These are the main dates of ceremonies at the Chippewa Memorial Park and individual visits in honor of the ancestors who walked this land.

It was screened at a Twin Cities Youth Media Showcase at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis and the Smithsonian Native American Film & Video Festival in New York City. And it won an honorable mention for best documentary at the Fargo Film Festival.

(cont. on page 15)

Organizing the Gathering is a committee of Anishinaabeg community members, representatives from the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of Ojibwe, town of LaPointe businesses, entities, and organizations like the Madeline Island Museum, MI Chamber of Commerce, St. John’s United Church of Christ, and others. Grants have been received from the Forest County Potawatomi, the Apostle Islands Community Fund and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Numerous donations have been received from the Town of LaPointe, Madeline Island Museum, and many Island businesses. The Madeline Island Anishinaabeg Gathering event was the first time that Anishinaabeg and community members came together to examine the significance of this sacred place in their history, present day lives, and visions for the future. This gathering provided an opportunity to expand community friendships, partnerships, and connections across cultures.




Bois Forte News • January 2010 • Page 15

University of Minnesota January Starwatch By Deane Morrison

The first month of 2010 belongs to Mars, but the moon does its best to upstage the Red Planet. January’s full moon, known to Algonquin Indians as the wolf moon or old moon, will be the closest and biggest of the year. It rises about 5 p.m. on the 29th, but at that moment it will still be six hours from complete fullness, so sharp-eyed viewers may see that its roundness leaves a little to be desired.

January is the best month to enjoy the bright winter constellations, namely Orion and his entourage, as they hold court in the south. The lowest but brightest of the bunch, Sirius, the Dog Star, ornaments Canis Major, the larger of Orion’s two hunting dogs. Above Sirius, Procyon, in Canis Minor, marks the smaller dog.

Immediately west of Procyon and Sirius, the angular form of Orion contains all sorts of wonders. Hanging from his three-star belt, the sword of Orion is home to a great cloud of gas and dust called the Orion Nebula, which houses one of the Milky Way’s most active nurseries for young stars. Just northwest of Orion, the Hyades star cluster of Taurus is always fun through binoculars; look for it between Orion and the equally fun, fuzzy Pleiades cluster.

Earth reaches perihelion, the closest approach to the sun in its orbit, on the 2nd. On that day we’ll pass a mere 91.4 million miles from our parent star—but absent a January thaw, we’ll still be plenty chilly.

The University of Minnesota offers public viewings of the night sky at its Duluth and Twin Cities campuses. For more information and viewing schedules, log onto: or You can also contact Deane Morrison at (612) 624-2346, JA N UA RY

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Need Legal Advice? Indian Legal Aid is at your service…. Nett Lake Administration Building 3rd Thursday of the month – 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Lake Vermillion Community Center 3rd Thursday of the month – 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Grants cont. from page 1)

Fortune Bay, which accounts for 60% of the Band’s revenue, is fairing better than many other casinos during the economic downturn. NIGA is reporting a 5-20% percent decline in Midwest casino revenues. Newsweek recently reported that overall U.S. gaming revenues dropped this year for the first time in 30 years, Time did a cover story on the troubles in what it called “Less Vegas,” and some big Indian casinos like Foxwoods are facing major financial problems.

The number of guests staying at Fortune Bay’s hotel and playing the Wilderness golf course was steady for much of 2009 and even showed growth in early months. But guests dropped off significantly as the economic slow down continued throughout 2009 and individual guests spent much less, with Fortune Bay feeling the effects. Guests from the local area have been especially hard hit by the recession: unemployment in some towns on the Iron Range reached 18%, compared to the state and national average of 8-10% in 2009.

Despite the decline in revenues, Fortune Bay has not laid off employees as so many other companies on the Range have done. The Band is committed to doing its best for the people who work for its businesses. And, by pursuing new funding sources such as ARRA grants, the Band is continuing to carry out the programs and services for the tribal members it serves. (David Sam cont. from page 11)

David said the incredible reception has taught him, “If you set your mind to it, anything is possible.”

But even more than awards, David said he’s gratified to hear from other young people who have also been bullied and tell him his film gave them hope. David has great hope himself. He’s planning to pursue a career in film, hoping to get into Minneapolis Technical College, where he recently applied. And he’s bursting with ideas. “I’m thinking of all kinds of things, but I’m not sure what to do next. I enjoy the entire process [of filming]. I just love it all.”

David shares thoughts about his film with the audience at the Native American Film & Video Festival in New York City. B O I S



IP Artist Featured in Bois Forte News  

In Progress artist David Samis featured in this wonderful article about his work as videomaker and storyteller. Well worth the read!

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