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Dakota Film Festival, "We Ride With Her," Colorectal Cancer, Farmers

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Today's Segments:

Dakota Film Festival
Stories connect us, and film is one of the most powerful forms of storytelling. The Dakota Film Festival is happening April 4th and 5th at the Belle Mehus in Bismarck. It explores who we are and our place in the world. We visit with Mary Van Sickle, one of the festival organizers

Film "We Ride With Her"
83% of Indigenous women have experienced violence, and are missing or murdered at 10 times the national average. Prairie Rose Seminole helped make a documentary on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. We Ride With Her premiered at SXSW and is showing in Bismarck in early April.

Increase of Colorectal Cancer in Young People
The recent death of former college football player Craig Roh from colon cancer at age 33 has brought attention to the "alarming" increase of colorectal cancer in young people. The American Cancer Society reports colon cancer is now the most common cause of cancer deaths in men under 50 and second for women under 50. In an excerpt from the Conversations on Healthcare podcast, Dr. Alan Venook at the University of California-San Francisco visits with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter.

Future Farmers
The average age of farmers in the U.S. continues to rise, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Census of Ag, is now nearly 60 years old. But there's also an increase in the number of new farmers. And, student membership in the agriculture organization FFA is at an all-time high according to this Harvest Public Media report.

April Fool's Day
A brief, tongue-in-cheek commentary advocating making April Fools' Day a national holiday from Fred Flaxman via PRX.

BirdNote - An April Fool's Day Quiz
In this April Fool's Day quiz from BirdNote, we play the sounds of three birds but only one of which is real. See if you can tell which one it is.

Transcript of Interview with Prairie Rose Seminole

Sure. Missing and murdered Indigenous relatives is an issue that affects so many communities. When you see films or documentaries or newscasts about this particular issue, it very much exploits the trauma.

You're causing harm to communities that it's affected, to even audiences who've never heard of the issue watching the film are so traumatized that they feel helpless or wow, I'm so glad that doesn't affect me. I can go back to my daily life. This disassociation happens.

Trauma-informed practices for us as filmmakers was one that moved forward in a way that knew that we didn't want to cause harm or perpetuate harm with the telling of this story, but also with bringing awareness to this issue. We wanted elements in there that talk to trauma because we can't talk about trauma without speaking to trauma.

Ashley Thornberg

Particularly on a topic where it's, you know, women go missing at 10 times the national average and Indigenous women, murder is a third leading cause of death and regularly at the hands of white people and they run into this incredible, perfect storm of jurisdiction issues.

Prairie Rose Seminole

Yep. I mean, law enforcement is inundated with new cases of missing murdered Indigenous relatives, like weekly, which causes them to kind of prematurely close them with no resolve. So what kind of justice or what kind of comfort are we getting in that justice system when you know, our Indigenous women are more likely to experience violence in their life than actually graduating from college, right?

Like that's the statistic that we shouldn't be accepting. And so to answer that other question though, that trauma-informed piece, we really wanted to make sure that this was done so in a way that allowed people to understand the issue, but also not to get that disassociation or that shutdown, which could happen in a lot of ways.

Ashley Thornberg

Yeah. Well, and I think in a lot of ways, a hopeful film.

Prairie Rose Seminole

I was hoping people walk away with that because here's this group of incredible, badass motorcyclists, right? Who each could have their own like narrative feature in their own right, because of their life stories. They're just incredible women, but here they are like all affected by loss and grief and traumatic grief.

Like the stories that each of these individual women have just, how do you get up in the morning when you've experienced so much violence, right? Like, but here they are not just showing up for one individual in this film, but time and time again, they're rallying around families who experienced violence. They're rallying around those who need advocates and they're really caretaking in the best way that they can.

And sometimes that's showing up. Sometimes that's giving money. Sometimes that's standing next to the families as they identify the remains of their loved ones.

And sometimes it's escorting the remains back home. I mean, and so many things beyond that, but here they are moving their grief into advocacy and action. And how we wanted people to walk away from this film was understanding like, you can play a role in this, whether it's just asking the question, like, how does this happen?

Like, why is this acceptable? It's not, right? But starting as an audience member, just even ask the question.

I want, I want people to walk away, at least asking how they can help and show up.

Ashley Thornberg

We're visiting today with Prairie Rose Seminole. She is the director of the film, We Ride For Her, which is showing Thursday, April 4th, at the Dakota Film Festival, the Dakota Film Festival happening in Bismarck at the Belle Mehus Auditorium, April 4th and 5th. Prairie Rose is an indigenous filmmaker of the Arikara, Sienish and Northern Cheyenne people groups specifically.

Let's talk a little bit more about the responsibility of the viewer of this. And a lot of times in films like this, I'm thinking back to when you said, put the story back in the hands of indigenous storytellers and filmmakers. There is the flip side of this is that doing the work of understanding this needs to fall onto the dominant society.

There needs, I don't know if it's an onus exactly, but of understanding our role in this, realizing that you cannot control how people watch a film. How do you hope that people who didn't grow up with an indigenous lived experience do the work that is really necessary to understand a film like We Ride For Her?

Prairie Rose Seminole

Yeah, I think our film was actually coming at a good time, especially following in the wave of indigenous representation happening in the media, like Killers of the Flower Moon. That is another film that sheds a light on the United States history of genocide and systemic oppression of indigenous people and the continued dark reality of violence and consistent devaluing of indigenous women. Indigenous women and girls in the United States are more likely to experience violence than non-indigenous girls.

So we know these statistics, but here's this film, like We Ride For Her, doing a touch on the reality of missing indigenous women and girls, which is a horrific one, with the origins and violence brought upon indigenous communities by colonizers, by non-native individuals, and the dominant culture has put that into our institutions and our systems, right? So combined with a justice system that was never established to protect indigenous people, created this epidemic that we see today. I mean, this film just touches on one story, when we could have touched on so many.

But there's over 5,500 missing and murdered indigenous relatives right now, and that number is really conservative. And so when you're asking what non-natives can do or what audience members can do once they see a short film like ours, because our film is only 18 minutes long, but I hope that it instills in them that they can also take matters into their own hands to see what kind of an impact they can have, understanding that Native people are one of the most legislated demographics in the country, right? Even though we have our sovereignty and our inherent rights to autonomy, we are still very much legislated because treaties are at that federal level.

So who we vote for matters. The jurisdictional barriers that we address in the film with law enforcement, having our law enforcement talk to each other, right? It was that easy to have the film talks to the Rapid City Police Department, which is a non-native jurisdiction, to talking with Oglala Sioux Tribe, their jurisdiction, right?

Just having them talk to each other. They're funded by the same Department of Justice that law enforcement agencies are funded across the country. Why cannot have those mechanisms in place that allow them to have the ability to work with each other more easily, right?

So barriers like that, advocates outside can just start asking those questions and then creating that public pressure for authorities to do the right thing.

Ashley Thornberg

Are you seeing a change in that direction?

Prairie Rose Seminole

Oh gosh. I think with the movement overall, I'd love to see our film do this thing where it's educating mass people across the country, but I don't know if that'll happen, right? This is just one small thing to do within my reach.

But I think within the movement of those working within the field of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives, we are starting to see that. We're starting to see more representation. We're starting to see more jurisdictions look at the cases more closely.

The pressure that was created in Montana, for example, after national news started highlighting what's happening in Montana, asking that question, what's happening here? Why are Native women and girls missing and being murdered and found, and then their cases going cold, right? Why is this happening?

And so there's more pressure happening across the country, I think, for jurisdictions to not only work together, but just start communicating and putting plans in place. North Dakota, a couple of legislative sessions started to ask, can we put together a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives database? And when they started looking further into it, the legislation passed, but in a way that says, we don't have legislation to even look at missing people.

So that's what we have now is a missing persons database. But the follow-up to that is that it's unfunded, right? So if we're going to create legislation that's meaningful, we're also going to have to fund it and house it in a place that sees it with that measure of accountability that our people matter.

And it's not just Native people, it's happening to a lot of communities as well.

Ashley Thornberg

So it's an election year. What do you hope voters will keep in mind relative to these kinds of issues?

Prairie Rose Seminole

We will not find comfort in a justice system that is tied to stolen land, broken treaties, forced removal of Indigenous people, and countless government policies centered around assimilation and cultural genocide, right? So when you think about how elections matter, do we care about these issues that people unlike ourselves are facing, right? So I'm very passionate about these issues, but are my non-Native relatives passionate about these issues?

Some are, but some are not because they can disassociate, right? So if we're going to create systems that work for all of us, we need to really hold ourselves accountable to ask questions, raise consciousness, and demand action for the issues that matter. Whether it's Indigenous people, whether it's incarcerated individuals, whether it's individuals who are the minority of demographic within our state and country, we have to ask those questions of how can we improve lives?

Our lives are already good, right? But how can we improve lives within the system that matter? And so I just hope voters are informed and not divided around the politics that have become divisive in this country, but just really look to make this place a safe place for all of us.

Ashley Thornberg

We're visiting today with Prairie Rose Seminole. She is the director of We Ride For Her. There is a Q&A following the showing of your film.

Why is a Q&A important at a film festival?

Prairie Rose Seminole

I think it's important to have those Q&A sessions after a film because it's going to bring up some pieces that folks want to unpack. I think it's a space to talk with the filmmakers about different intentions around the film itself and themes that have been coming up within the film. And also I think for filmmakers to help people unpack what they just viewed in a film because this is going to be a new issue for folks.

And to have sat through even a short film like ours experiencing a new issue that's brought to their attention, it's going to be a time for a filmmaker to kind of help guide through not only unpacking that issue, but also put that onus now that you've seen this, you're responsible. You have the privilege to be responsible and accountable to your fellow neighbors, whether you know them or not, but there's this piece happening and it matters. We have to pay attention to it.

So how do we show up and how do we address these as a community? So it's going to move that raising awareness to, I hope, building community and allies.

Ashley Thornberg

Prairie Rose Seminole, the director of We Ride For Her, showing at the upcoming Dakota Film Festival in Bismarck. And you can find out more about the film at werideforher.com or the film festival at dakotafilmfestival.org. Prairie Rose, did I get that correct?

Prairie Rose Seminole

Prairie Rose Seminole, Director of We Ride For Her, The way our language is spelled versus how it's said is very different. But yeah, it's like, way to go. Way to go.

Ashley Thornberg

Way to go.

Prairie Rose Seminole

Way to go. Thank you.