Video Documentary on Ward Churchill to Film on CU-Boulder Campus

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A video documentary exploring the key issues at the center of controversy surrounding CU-Boulder professor Ward ChurchillÂ?free speech, and American Indian identity and sovereigntyÂ?is underway in the Boulder area. The film is being produced by Walking Eagle Productions, a newly formed documentary group and division of Grantastic Designs, dedicated to covering issues impacting freedom of speech, as well as Native Americans.

A video documentary exploring the key issues at the center of controversy surrounding CU-Boulder professor Ward Churchill—free speech, and American Indian identity and sovereignty—is underway in the Boulder area. The film is being produced by Walking Eagle Productions, a newly formed documentary group and division of Grantastic Designs, dedicated to covering issues impacting freedom of speech, as well as Native Americans.

Churchill gained notoriety in January when a three-year old essay of his surfaced arguing that the Sept. 11 attacks were retaliation for America’s unjust foreign policy. In it, he referred to the people killed at the World Trade Towers as “little Eichmans” (a reference to one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious war criminals, Adolf Eichman, who was personally responsible for the killing of millions of Jews). He contends that subsequent reactions by public officials infringes on his rights to free speech as a federal employee.

“Mr. Churchill and his supporters have a long history of demanding free speech just for themselves, while at the same time demanding government censorship and persecution of others they deem “politically incorrect,” said Grant Crowell, one of the documentary’s co-producers. “We want to use this issue to educate the public on the history of the First Amendment and its ties to Native American culture, along with the injustices that can be perpetuated from the misuse and false interpretations of freedom of speech.”

Crowell touts that this will be an inclusive documentary of all sides and opinions — including those of Mr. Churchill and his supporters — with everyone’s coverage in unedited format on the internet for downloading and display. “A Web Site is a perfect tool for a documentary not only to show complete coverage of everyone, but for our work in progress to be viewed by the public on an ongoing basis and to take their suggestions before its final production.” Says Crowell.

Additionally, as a tenured professor of ethnic studies and author of several books on various Native American issues, Churchill is under investigation for falsifying historical facts, plagiarism and misrepresenting himself as an American Indian. “Mr. Churchill misleads people to believe that he’s an enrolled member of the UKB and that the UKB tribal community supports him. He appropriated an honorary membership for personal gain,” said Heidi McCann, the documentary’s other co-producer and also an enrolled member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation who works as an American Indian Culture Preservationist in the Boulder-area. “By examining Churchill’s claims to Native American ancestry, this documentary will illustrate how federally recognized tribes determine tribal membership, as well as articulate the federal law that supports sovereign powers tribes have over members.”

While Churchill has not returned the group’s phone calls or e-mails personally inviting him to be a part of this film, the following noted scholars have already agreed to be interviewed for this documentary:

• Rick Williams, CEO of the American Indian College Fund;

• Vine Deloria, former Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians and retired Professor Emeritus of history at CU-Boulder;

• Judd Golden, Chair, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – Boulder, Colorado

• Robert Nagel, Professor, School of Law, CU-Boulder

Crowell and McCann will also be holding an open call on the CU-Boulder campus to film other Boulder-area residents interested in sharing their opinions and experiences. Anyone interested in being interviewed can show up between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday, June 14 in Room Ketchum 303. (The room is being sponsored by the College Democrats.)

Crowell and McCann are aiming to finish the documentary by late summer, The film will be marketed to television stations in the Boulder-area (Just in the Boulder area or other places, too?) and larger media outlets from during that time to the early fall, for a planned release of late 2005. Those who wish to see clips of their progress will be able to watch raw footage on the web – starting in August – at http://www.walkingeagle.org.

For more information about the documentary and how to participate as an interviewee, call 847.488.9300 or e-mail info@walkingeagle.org.

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