The Return of Navajo Boy

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Groundswell’s December 2010 Newsletter

Dear Friends of Groundswell,

Making a difference in society calls for more tools than you can find in a documentary film. It calls for vision and creative activism involving marketing, educating and partnering with real people from different walks of life. That’s how we build a groundswell.

If you want to see how Groundswell Educational Films and our Navajo partners move mountains keep on reading. And clicking. In this special Navajo edition you will see hyper links to new videos about an unprecedented clean-up of Cold War uranium contamination on the reservation. Groundswell works for many good causes but today we are asking you to contribute to an urgent environmental justice campaign.

Since 2000 when our film, The Return of Navajo Boy, stunned Sundance Film Festival audiences, we have raised sponsorships for Navajo speakers to travel with the film. We advocate for a clean up of radioactive waste from abandoned uranium mines. More than 1,000 abandoned uranium mines continue to impact homes, livestock, land and water across the 25,000 square mile reservation. The Navajo Nation is home to approximately 175,000 people. It holds the largest uranium deposits in the United States and suffers from the highest cancer rates in the Southwest region. In 2005 the tribe banned uranium mining forever.

We are pleased to report that congress has authorized funds for a comprehensive plan to clean up abandoned mines, including the one known as Skyline Mine which impacts the family featured in our film. However, Skyline is only one site out of hundreds. Please help us call attention to all the other sites. We have succeeded in attracting national attention to this issue.

The EPA acknowledges our work in support of one very determined Navajo grandmother, Elsie Mae Begay. The star of our film, Elsie carries the story and her tribe’s concerns to colleges across the country and to Capitol Hill. Our methodology works. Groundswell works behind the scenes to connect Navajo speakers such as Elsie to mainstream news media, academia, industry, the EPA and congress. The EPA is now beginning work in her backyard.

We need your support to train and equip more Navajo speakers from impacted areas who want to advocate for their communities.

Your donation will help Groundswell Educational Films provide training and media tools to Navajo correspondents at many other sites so they can be more visible and multiply Elsie’s good work.

Check out the webisodes by our Navajo partners and our newly created Navajo water quality website. Become a sponsor of a webisode, or of a public screening in your community.

Spread the word by sharing this newsletter and our Facebook page.

The Return of Navajo Boy is a multi-award winning documentary film that moves audiences to action.

“When people talk about the transforming power of filmmaking, they are usually referring to artistic statements or emotional catharsis, but The Return of Navajo Boy reminds that there is a different kind of power to be found in the moving image. . . .Not only did the film lead to the reunion of the Cly family with the long-lost John Wayne Cly, but it also brought public and legal attention to the issue of uranium mining, a former way of life in Monument Valley that has led to an alarmingly high cancer rate.” – Chicago Tribune

“Like a finely made rug, The Return of Navajo Boy contains multiple layers of color, construction, and meaning… A must see.” – Native Peoples Magazine

Click here to order the DVD.

We appreciate all your support and wish you health and justice in the new year.

           -- Jeff & Jennifer
          Groundswell Co-Founders