Quapaw Nation Celebrates Documentary and Offers Help with Christmas Gifts | Local news

MIAMI, Okla. – The Quapaw Nation celebrated its culture in Miami on Monday with a focus on regenerating the environment and communities on its lands.

Monday’s event at the Coleman Theater, originally conceived as the Oklahoma debut of a documentary showcasing the tribe’s sustainable farming practices, turned into something more when President Joseph Byrd unexpectedly presented 30,000 $ to the Marine Toys for Tots program in Ottawa and Delaware counties.

The move, Byrd said, came as volunteers at the nonprofit found themselves working at the last minute to grant Christmas wishes to at least 1,000 Ottawa County residents.

Byrd said organizers originally planned to set up boxes during the documentary’s screening, allowing people to bring in a donation of toys for the Quapaw Nation Blessing Tree. When the tribal leaders learned of the pressing need at the county level, they decided to extend their donations into the spirit of the community.

“It’s wonderful this time of year,” Byrd said. “It’s a season of giving, a time when you can reunite with those you love. We were very fortunate to reap the reward from our business ventures and donate it financially to this cause. “

The gift, Byrd said, is symbolic because the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal recently ruled unanimously, in a case centered on Quapaw Nation resident Jeremy Lawhorn, which Congress has never suppressed. the Quapaw reserve.

“Our boundaries (within Ottawa County) were reaffirmed in the Lawhorn decision,” Byrd said. “The Quapaw Nation wants to be a good community partner and be there to help, build bridges and spread joy.”

Over the past few days, Sandy Love, director of local agency Marine Toys for Tots, has worked to ensure that children in the area in need receive Christmas presents. Love attended Monday’s event at the Coleman Theater and said she was amazed at the generosity of Byrd and the tribal leaders.

“It will affect so many children,” Love said. “This community is blessed by the Quapaw Nation. This is a good start to meeting the needs of this community.

Traditionally, Love said, the Marine Toys for Tots program has strived to give children two games, two Christmas stockings, and a stuffed animal. Bicycles, often in demand, are generally scarce. While some kids ask for big ticket items like game consoles, others, Love said, ask for personal items.

“We have kids who just ask for blankets because they’re cold,” Love said. “We have others asking for products like bath products so they can just clean themselves. Many only ask for things of daily survival.

Land regeneration, cultivation

Monday’s main event was the Oklahoma debut of a documentary, “Regeneration of Land and Culture,” by Brooke Bierhaus, which focuses on the Quapaw Nation’s efforts to reintroduce the buffalo to northeastern Oklahoma. .

Bierhaus, a documentary filmmaker and visual storyteller based in Rogers, Arkansas, said she was drawn to the subject because it explores environmental issues and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

During filming, Bierhaus explored not only the tribe’s efforts in sustainable agriculture, but also his own Quapaw heritage. Bierhaus’ paternal great-grandmother, Effie Greenback Riddle, was adopted from an Indian residential school in Illinois.

Bierhaus said she took an immersive approach when making the documentary. Scenes in the film include interviews with tribal elders and those who work with the tribe’s agricultural initiatives. It also includes images of the tribe’s buffalo herds.

She said Quapaw officials helped her through the creative process, which began in April 2020. The film premiered in October at the Hot Springs, Arkansas Documentary Film Festival. It is currently circulating among other film festivals. Bierhaus expects it to be available to the public by summer 2022.

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