"Defending the Fire," an exploration of the Native American warrior, debuted in August on S.W. Virginia Public Television. It will appear on other public television stations across the country.
In the 57-minute documentary, Santa Fe, New Mexico-based filmmaker and producer Pamela Pierce looks at the lore and history of warrior images and shows the complex reality and how it differs from common stereotypes. She attempts to understand the motives of a Native American military soldier, fighting for America in world wars and conflict, even when citizenship and voting rights were denied.
"Defending the Fire" won Best Feature film at the SWAIA Indian Market Native Cinema Film Festival.
Watch the trailer.
Pierce, who grew up in Alexandria, Virginia and is a 1972 graduate of Roanoke College, is not a Native American herself but is passionate about Native Americans, their history and their culture. The staff of her company, Silver Bullet Productions, is a mix of Native American and non-Native American. Silver Bullet's board members are Native American, and the advisors are entirely Native.
"Defending the Fire" will debut at 8 p.m., Aug. 14 on S.W. Virginia Public Television (digital channel 15.2).
One of her motivations for doing the film was when a tribal leader mentioned to her that a member of his pueblo had fought in World War II and served under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Yet when the war was over and Eisenhower became president, Native Americans still were not allowed to vote, even though they had put their lives on the line for their country.
This is not the first time Pierce and her company have addressed Native American topics. The company has created about 40 educational films, including teaching and film production. Most notably, Silver Bullet produced "Canes of Power" and "A Thousand Voices." The latter was selected by Indian Country Today- a national news source for and about Native people in North America-as one of the 50 best Native Films.
"Defending the Fire" has not been scheduled on other PBS stations yet but will appear on stations in New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Colorado. It's under consideration for stations in Washington, D.C., Portland, Seattle, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota.
This program will broadcast on Salem Comcast channel 264 and on Cox Cable channel 107. It can also be found on the digital channel 15.2.