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A small Maine town decides the fate of its
American Indian mascot after facing public allegations of racist behavior at a high school football game.

SCREENINGS

We're excited to share a work-in-progress cut of the film as part of our efforts to secure finishing funds to complete the film. The program is free to watch, and we'll be hosting live Q&As with members of the production team after each screening period concludes. Contributions received through our fiscal sponsor, Documentary Educational Resources, will help ensure this film will be ready for consideration by PBS television stations in by summer of 2022. Register for a screening by clicking on the dates below.

December Screening TBA

 
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THE STORY

For nearly sixty years, students and alumni of Wells High School in Maine have called themselves the “Warriors.” Their yearbook is named for the Abenaki, the indigenous people the town’s settlers first encountered in the 1600s. The school’s mascot, variations of a stoic Native American head in profile with braids and feathered headband, has drawn both support and criticism in the past. However, during the 2017 fall athletic season, an incident shocks the town and reignites the debate.

 

After a home football game, a story appears in the Portland Press Herald reporting that Warriors fans mocked Native culture – that they made “Indian” whooping calls and donned “war paint.” The witness to these transgressions is the mother of the visiting team's quarterback, herself an Abegweit Mi’kmaq from one of the five sovereign Wabanaki Tribal Nations of what is now called Maine and the Canadian Maritime provinces. Pressure mounts as other press outlets pick up the story and the town is compelled to respond, forming a committee to investigate the incident and consider the fate of the community's beloved mascot.

“We Are The Warriors'' follows the citizenry of Wells, a population that includes Indigenous Peoples, as they convene to speak, hear each other, and seek consensus. And by inviting Wabanaki voices from across the state to join the conversation, including the mother whose experience ignited the debate, the residents of Wells work to better understand the lasting effects of their colonial past and how it relates to the present day impact of their good intentions.

 
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Warriors Production Still 14_Tuplin

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Warriors Production Still 12_Welcome Sig

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Warriors Production Still 17_Roche

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Warriors Production Still 14_Tuplin

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WHY IT MATTERS

From small school districts across the country to professional sports teams, the caricatures, costumes, chants, and team names that reduce and generalize Native American peoples and culture are being challenged like never before. During this era of divisive rhetoric and refusal to compromise, the quality of dialogue required to navigate controversial issues often seems impossible to achieve. How the approximately 1,200 schools across the country that still use American Indian mascots and names handle the seemingly inevitable conflict remains to be seen.

As for Wells, “We Are The Warriors” chronicles the Mascot Advisory Committee's difficult work as modern sensibilities collide very publicly with a small town’s traditions. The film shows the good faith felt by those who've joined the dialogue, and in the end, as intrusive or painful as the process seems, the community remains bound – even in the absence of imagery once revered as essential to its identity. 

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Warriors Production Still 23_Pierce

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Warriors Production Still 14_Steeple

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Warriors Production Still 5_Artifact

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Warriors Production Still 23_Pierce

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IMPACT & SUPPORT

"We Are The Warriors" is an hour-long, broadcast-quality program that will be made available to public television stations across the country. Active outreach to communities and public school systems using Native American names and imagery within the broadcast territory of scheduled screenings is planned. The producers will also work with school systems that are facing similar decisions around American Indian mascots to arrange opportunities for in-person or virtual screenings.

With a rough cut of "We Are The Warriors" nearly complete, the costs associated with releasing this film by the end of 2021 have been identified. Any support you can make right now will provide critical finishing funds. Please help us bring this important and compelling story to communities across America by making a one-time or monthly tax deductible contribution through the film's fiscal sponsor, Documentary Educational Resources.

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$50 +

    - Name or organization listed as a Supporter in end credits

   

$100 +

    - Name or organization listed as a Supporter in end credits

    - Invitation to a private pre-release screening of the finished film (TBA)

$500 +

    - Name or organization listed as a Supporter in scrolling credits

    - Invitation to a private pre-release screening of the finished film (TBA)

    - Digital download of the completed film

   

$1,000 +

     - Name or organization listed as an Underwriter before scrolling credits

     - Invitation to a private pre-release screening of the finished film (TBA)

     - Digital download of the completed film

 

 
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FILMMAKERS

Producer/Directors David Camlin and Megan Grumbling are both graduates of Wells High School. They each now live in Portland, Maine and return to Wells often to visit their folks on Tatnic Hill and over by Ell Pond.

 

David (Camera/Editor) is a Producer/Lead Editor for 7 Cylinders Studio, a Michigan based production company producing content for commercial, non-profit, and academic entities. He recently released two feature length films – Welcome to Commie High (94 minutes) is a documentary about the founding and legacy of an alternative public high school with an hour long PBS version premiering on WGTE (Toledo, OH) in October of 2021. El Lobo y La Paloma (58 minutes) is a flamenco inspired live performance about loss, grief, and our connection to the spiritual world currently available in corrections facilities nationwide via the tablet based learning system Edovo, and through online and theatrical screenings. His previous independent work has been screened in film festivals nationwide, independent theaters throughout Maine, and broadcast by public television stations in Maine and New Hampshire.

Megan is a writer, editor, teacher, and writing mentor. She earned her Master’s Degree in cultural reporting at New York University, and since then has written regularly about film, theater, and social issues for the Portland Phoenix, Dispatch, The Chart and other journals. Her recent publications include Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, a collection of poetry exploring environmental crisis and the nature of story itself; and Booker's Point, an oral history-inspired portrait-in-verse about an old Maine woodsman and his home on Ell Pond. She also wrote and co-directed the short film Carrying Place, an allegory about cultural amnesia that was featured as part of Best of the Maine International Film Festival and screened on Maine Public Television; and she shares writer-director credit on the immersive film installation She Dives Down, about the fluid nature of narrative.

CREW

Co-Producer/Assistant Editor/Camera

Joanna Weaver is an editor and grant writer for Sunlight Media Collective. Her recent post-production work includes the documentary short Kihtahkomikumon (Our Land) - #IsLandBack in Passamaquoddy Territory, and the upcoming Sunlight Media documentary This River is Our Relative. Originally from Gouldsboro, Maine, Joanna now lives in southwestern Colorado and is producing a film about the impact of storytelling.

 

Associate Producer

Sierra Henries (Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck) is a birch bark artist and member of Sunlight Media Collective living at the intersection of Passamaquoddy & Penobscot homelands (Sullivan, Maine). Her work has allowed her to participate in Indigenous arts events throughout New England, the Deep South, and Canada. She is a production assistant in Sunlight Media's film Kihtahkomikumon (Our Land) - #IsLandBack in Passamaquoddy Territory, and videographer and consulting editor in the production of their upcoming film "This River is Our Relative".

Music Supervisor/Post-Production Consultant

Mali Obomsawin is a citizen of the Odanak (Abenaki) First Nation. She is a musician, educator, racial justice advocate, writer, and #landback organizer. Mali plays music professionally as Mali Obomsawin (bassist, singer-songwriter, composer), and with the band Lula Wiles (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), touring internationally and garnering acclaim from NPR Music, Rolling Stone, and Paper Magazine. As a writer, Mali works for Sunlight Media Collective and has recently published freelance work in The Boston Globe and Smithsonian Folklife Magazine while serving as the Executive Director of the Wabanaki-led nonprofit Bomazeen Land Trust. 

Consulting Producer

Donald Harrison launched 7 Cylinders Studio in 2012 and serves as lead producer & director, working on client projects in all aspects of production, strategy and outreach. As an independent filmmaker he’s produced and directed two feature documentaries—Welcome to Commie High and The Rockstar of Real Estate—and  previously served as Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival  from 2008 – 2012 through its historic 50th season.

Additional Camera

David Huot

Ryan Jarochym

ADVISORS

Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) is a lifetime educator and the former Executive Director & Senior Partner to Wabanaki Nations at the Abbe Museum. He was born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, ME) and is a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. He's a long time member of the Mystic River singers and served for six years as the Education Supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Chris co-founded the Akomawt Educational Initiative helping institutions incorporate Native content appropriately into their material and was the Senior Adviser on the Emmy winning documentary Dawnland.

 

Osihkiyol (Zeke) Crofton-Macdonald (Wolastoqey) is a member of Welamukotuk First Nation in New Brunswick and the Houlton Band of Maliseets in Maine. He is currently writing a thesis on Wabanaki Treaty history while pursuing a Master's in History at the University of New Brunswick. Zeke is the Houlton Band of Maliseets' Tribal Co-Commissioner on the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission and has spent his life advocating for Wabanaki People; for Wabanaki Public Health as the Nikan’usk (Youth) Coordinator for the Maliseet and Micmac Nations in Maine, Indian Child Welfare Services at the Houlton Band of Maliseets, and Resource Development Consultation at St Mary’s First Nation and Oromocto First Nation.

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