We are Not Legends is a film documentary about a road trip across the USA of a native middel-age man from INNU nation in Canada and a white european woman from Belgium. Together, they’re gonna share their vision of America.
They will ride from Canada till Arizona.
In between, they want to drive to the Unknown like the old way of wandering in the New World.
They'll put themselves in a Listening mode to what the trip has to say.
We are Not Legends, it's his road, it's my road, it's our road.
if you want to follow this adventure : you can go and check on facebook
Michel Germain wants to make a trip across North America to heal his past injuries that were inflicted on him in the Boarding Schools.
Helene Collin (it's me) I want to go along with him to discover the other America, the one we never really tell.
I first discovered the poetry of native cultures when I was 17 at school and felt directly touched by their vision of nature and the role of humanbeings on earth as protectors.
«The World doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it.»
This sentence was kind of a revelation for me as a young woman because I realized that it explains a lot about the relationship we have with everything. I think we have a lot to learn from the wisdom of native cultures and that we have to consider this knowledges as richness.
Through meeting people in their trip we will investigate the influence of the Native American Today.
We are not Legends?
Who are «theAmericanIndians»? What do we know about them, their daily life in the 21 Century?
Have we locked them in old cliche from Movies and Books? Does this part of the American history does just have a touritic interest? There is a danger of being stucked in the past, and to be «museified»?
According to the «Courrier International» : "The American Natives, this is one of the ethnic minorities the most misunderstood in the USA. They are more isolated from the rest of society, because people do not know them in their direct experience but preconceptions, Hollywood movies, a wave of book or article read years ago. Stereotyping plays the role of a substitute for an intimate and meaningful knowledge. While some myths may seem silly or stupid, interested parties are confronted almost daily. "
Indeed, there is no nation that is associated with many dreams and nostalgia.
The draft of this travel documentary film is to look for answers to these questions by following Michel Germain, an Indian craftsman driving across USA to find his nomadic roots and to heal the wounds of his past.
We Are Not Legends could be the cry of an existing minority enclosed in neo-colonialists cliches, the affirmation of a presence in Today’s world .
The idea is to take the road as did the hobos and as to Drive To The Unknown ...
We depart from the community Masteuiash Michel in Quebec and we'll drive trough USA to the Four Corner State in United States.
First we stop in upstate New York , where I planned to meet the famous and marvelous author Russell Banks who agree to meet us. Together with him we will dissect together the process of the road in the American identity.
And then we'll drive to Arizona, Mecca of the Navajo culture and its capital, Phoenix , the city where it rises from the ashes ?
In between the trip is free… Free to meet new people, nations and to follow the invisible path ready for us.
Aboard a radar car we'll start to hunt for stories and consolations.
Beyond the difficult social realities, what we value above all in this project is to share the Beauty of this specific relationship that the Native Americans have with the world.
This world's vision that binds irreversibly to nature and that honors the interdependence of each with all.
It is an immersion in another America, listening another notion of Time, another relationship with the living, sharing a different experience.
My believes are :
"As the world approaches the abyss of frequent natural environmental catastrophes caused by over population and the uncontrolled materialistic growth demanded by our westernized economies, we should seriously look for alternative ways of measuring progress and develop a better understanding what humans really need. In this undertaking we could take a page out of the book of American natives who have been able to peacefully coexist with nature for several millennia."
Two years ago, during the summer of 2011, I spent a month in Canada-Quebec.
I realized one of my dreams : go back to Canada and discover the realities of American Indians today .
During my trip, I encountered Michel Germain. I was with a native friend going back from his reservation and
we needed a car to go to Tadoussak to see the Whales. Michel had one. He wanted to go there to say goodbye to a native friend artist who had just committed suicide. I wanted to see the whales.
For each of our own reasons, we take the road to that place. We went in that pilgrimage & there I read him a poem from a book I had with me.
It was a healing poem of the Navajo path of Beauty. Michel felt immediatly cured after my reading?
I didn't really know what I had read. A few hours later, he told me about his planned trip to United State and he proposed me to join him.
I already had other projects underway this year. So I refused. But a day in the summer of 2012, Michel called me on my phone in Belgium to tell me that if I still wanted to accompany him, he was waiting for me to make this trip.
Gradually, my idea of a film project get born and took shape.
By following the link below, you can watch a portrait that a friend has made Michel Germain:
(Warning long portrait + or -20min )
PS : It is a friend who made this portrait for me from Canada and not me even if you can see my name written. I thank him very much for this because it allows me to present images of Michel who is the protagonist of the adventure !
Here is an extract of the poem :
In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds Beautifully butterflies…
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively; In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again… It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
If you want to expand upon what underlies our project, it is here :
THE PERSONAL BACKGROUND :
- Why this journey ? What is t he resonances ?
It 's His road : Michel Germain
Michel Germain like many other indians has been educated in the Boarding Schools during ten years.
He was a six years old boy living in the forest with his parents when he was sent for his first year in the Boarding School far away from where he lived. Horrors have been perpetrated there. He has been sexual abused by a priest.
The summer I met him, he just decided to testify concerning his sufferings beside the Truth and Reconcilation Commission.
The Canadian government implemented in recent years a commission called Truth and Reconciliation to restore the dialogue between the native nations and the canadian citizens and through him to build new relationships based on the recognition and mutual respect that will forge a better future.
This Commission is striving to collect , among other informations what happened in special residential schools, the schools of Shame, as they were called .
Throughout the 20th Century, Aboriginal children were sent as far away from their families in boarding schools where they were educated by priests and nuns.
The effect of such separations were often traumatic.
Siblings were separated and were forbidden to talk with each others. It was also forbidden to speak their native language under penalty of washing their mouth out with soap or bleach.
There was the idea at that period that the Indian's children had to be tamed and civilized !
An infamous sentence often said by Canadian government officials was : We must kill the Indian in the child.
Psychological, physical and sexual abuses were the daily lot of these young children. Native children across North America have experienced this violent forced assimilation.
Today, they are still licking the wounds painfully .
And in the case of Michel, it's the moment for him to heal this part of himself.
After having followed the all process of The Commission Truth and Reconciliation ; telling his everyday life of each year he passed in the Boarding Schools, he feels he needs to take a break.
Going back to the visions, to the pains was a hard process. He says that he wants now to Burn the past and reborn in a way. The symbol of the Phoenix takes his meaning here in our trip.
Meeting Michel and other people like Jacques Newashish, Nicole O'bomsawin, Joan Gregoire, Jeanette Coocoo made me realize how little we knew about those people and their life TODAY.
I felt in a special condition : that I had to testify from what I had learned with them, to use my voice to make people hear about the beauty of the hearts I met.
According to me, native people symbolize a presence of another vision of life that is full of teachings.
It helped me a lot to change my vision, feel my inner peace, feel in harmony with the nature, and free to be myself.
"We Are Not Legends" appeared to me as a perfect title to say something about the condition of american indians. There are many cliche from each side of the ocean and this vague space is full of projections.
To dissolve illusions, nothing is better than to dare to meet each others. See with your own eyes, feel with your heart, experiment with your soul and body. The adventure is ideal for that : sharing pieces of humanity and transmute who we are by the speech of our hearts is what I want to share.
(I don't know who made that picture. I took it from internet. I can clarify this as soon as I'll be notified!)
From the european side,
there is that fallacy about the INDIAN that he’s the one who still knows how to be wild.
From the American side,
there is the cliche of the drunk, poor and unemployed Indian.
The truth is neither, it’s somewhere else.
Back in Europe I often answered a question that people asked me like embarrassed :
"Do they still live in tepees ? "
I noticed that there was a general ignorance of the reality of Native North Americans.
Some vague ideas were present in people's minds but it was like the existence of Native American was impalpable that it belonged to another time and space. That they appeared in another world than ours.
The documentary seemed to me the artistic ideal tool to confront dreams and realities.
The idea of the road trip is attractive because it evokes wandering and its surprises and also it tells the myth of America.
My natural instincts in the encounter with strangers has often led me to experience emotional situations, incredible and interesting happenings that are full of teachings. I like to be the listener when I am with people and let them telling me their story. I believe that every human being has a story to tell that may interest the world, we just have to listen.
The documentary experience is to meet the other America, and listen its stories.
It seems that Barack Obama is about to make a tour of the reserve in 2014. This will be the year that we, perhaps we will be on the roads at the same time. What he going to declare at the end of this tour, which finding, which proposal he going to do with Native Americans.
- WHY NOW?
Because since a year is rising a movement called Idle No More through the all North America.
Talking of " Idle No More" is like talking about a Native spring as we talked about the Arab Spring.
The Movement was in Canada just a year ago in response to the first omnibus legislation that the Harper's government had increased on Canada's natural resources.
As other movements, It emerged and developed through the Internet. Today, "Idle No More" represents an opportunity to unify the native americans in their concerns for the respect for the land and ancestral treaties.
"Idle No More" means: No more Inaction or STOP to apathy.
During my trip last winter in Quebec, I learned more about the movement. I got some interviews and follow some of their demonstrations.
According to me, it means that it's now that we have to putt the spotlight on native culture re-emergence and give us the opportunity to learn from each others.
I chose a picture of this little girl because she symbolizes the struggle of First Nations for generations .
In their website, you can read :
"Our People and Our Mother Earth can No Longer Afford to be Economic hostages in the race to industrialize our homelands : It's Time for our People to Rise Up And Take Back our role as caretakers and Stewards of the Land. " Eriel Deranger .
If you want to check more information about Idle No More
We are Not Legends is a project who wants to create new relationships and through the pleasure of a beautiful trip, will try to tell more about our human condition.