Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy

Moving Image
Created: 2009


Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy
Summary: "Winner of Best Documentary Short at the 2009 American Indian Film Festival, 'Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy' is the latest documentary film by Great Divide Pictures that explores the Native American experience. For the past twenty years, producers Sonny Hutchison and Chris Wheeler have been committed to telling largely untold stories of the history and culture of the American Indian. 'The Living Masters,' a 30-minute documentary, took viewers inside the creative minds of some of greatest Native artists of the West. 'How the West Was Lost,' a 13-hour series that aired on Discovery, has been referred to as groundbreaking television. 'Life and Death on the Washita,' a 30-minute documentary for Washita National Historic Site, painfully recreates Custer's dawn attack that wiped out a peaceful band of Cheyennes. In addition, Hutchison and Wheeler produced an audio exhibit telling the Washita story in the Cheyenne language. Currently in production is 'The Russian Bishops House: An Icon Reborn,' an interpretive film for Sitka National Historical Site that tells the complex story of Russian missionaries and their attempts to convert the Tlingits and other Alaskan natives to the Orthodox faith. In every one of Hutchison and Wheeler's films, the predominant voice is that of the Native American. All of these films require not only great time and energy, but also respect and cultural sensitivity. The producers of Great Divide consider it a privilege to tell their stories.

"Taking more than two years to produce and told exclusively through native voices, 'Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy' tells the poignant and inspirational story of the pipestone quarries located in southwestern Minnesota. Today, as in the past, the pipes made from this soft red stone are essential to the continued ceremonial and spiritual practices of the American Indian. Interviewed were more than 20 Native Americans -- elders, spiritual leaders and modern day quarriers. Their eloquent words convey the deep passion and personal connections Native Peoples -- past and present -- have with the sacred pipestone quarries.

"'Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy' has aired on both South Dakota Public Television and Twin Cities Public Television. Additionally, it plays in the Visitor Center of Pipestone National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. Pipestone's Superintendent Glen Livermont (a Lakota) gives his thoughts on the film:

"'It was evident from the beginning, during the review of their proposal for this project that Sonny and Chris had the experience and understanding to produce the film we envisioned. They conducted numerous interviews of American Indians in developing the story of the film, with many of the people very complimentary of the sensitivity and understanding Chris and Sonny demonstrated during that process. They quickly grasped the spiritual sensitivity of the pipestone story and treated it with respect which developed a level of trust they consistently lived up to. I am extremely satisfied with the final film and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity of having Chris and Sonny produce it.'"--2009 Peabody Awards entry form.

Corporate Producers: Great Divide Pictures | Pipestone National Monument (Minn.) | South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Broadcast Date: 2009-09-08