New Jersey Stage

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Reality Show to Benefit Native Americans

(Long Branch, NJ) -- The vast majority of Americans would likely agree that, throughout the United States' history, the government's treatment of Native Americans was nothing short of abhorrent. However, while most people are quick to agree that the United States greatly wronged the indigenous people, few realize that this disregard for their well-being continues to this day.

Since they were initially forced onto reservations and forced to assimilate into the European way of life by the United States government, a vast majority of the Nations have had their health and living conditions decline.

While utter poverty and technological isolation remain completely alien to the average American, these struggles have become a sad fact of life for many Native Americans. Upon seeing these reservations, the average American would likely assume they were in a third world country.

The physical environment of some reservations is beyond shameful: the structural integrity of many of the houses and schools has been compromised.

For decades, the Native Americans have lived in a cultural limbo. Their native languages and heritage are quickly dissolving, trapping their youth between American society and Tribal custom. More than eighty percent of the nations' Native speakers are sixty-five years and older making a distinct possibility that in the years to come many Nations that have tens of thousands of speakers will lose their language and culture that are interconnected.

Native Americans feel as though they lack a true place in the modern world; depression, drug abuse, and suicide have become major issues on the reservations.

After witnessing the conditions on some of the reservations and seeing the successes of others, Mary Jo Christian and Marc Victor created a TV show which highlights the great contributions the Native Americans have given to mankind as well as to portray their resilience to overcome hardship.  Even though The American Indians did not technically get the right to vote until 1964 the Indians have willingly defended America with their heart and soul and have gone into battle with a greater sense of the moment. According to Senator Dorgan, they have received more purple hearts and congressional medals of honor than other culture. They open every ceremony, Pow-Wow and festival with their great warriors who have fought in battles for this great nation. They view the American flag as a sacred entity and will lay down their lives for it as they have.  As a result Marc and Mary Jo made it their mission to improve the lives of the Native peoples. They have spent the last several months on the road, criss-crossing the country in an attempt to meet with as many Tribal leaders as possible.

"In traveling the reservations we have found a need to set up a non-profit organization, to support the Nations with some very serious issues," said Christian. "In speaking with elders and youth we have found that the loss of the native tongue is having an impact on the youth as they feel uncomfortable [and] torn between two cultures. The Indians are in a quagmire of not being able to teach their language…"

Marc and Mary Jo began working closely with tribal elders, and launched the American Dream Catcher Organization, the goal of which is to raise funds to aid and preserve the rapidly declining Native American culture. The duo found they were warmly welcomed by tribal elders, many of whom also acknowledge the importance of the organization's work.

"I have had the opportunity to visit with Mary Jo and Marc several times over the past few weeks," said Robert ‘Corky' Old Horn, a Crow elder. "I am very impressed on their dedication to better the lives of Native American Youth and help Indian Nations retain and re-enforce their native languages."

The organization's first major project will be Dream Catcher - Search For The Ultimate Warrior, a reality television series in which Native Americans will vie for the title of "Ultimate Warrior" by competing in a series of physical American Indian challenges.

"Twenty-four tribes are to compete for a solar and wind generation facility and tech school worth approximately one-million dollars," said Victor.

The search for financial backers for the program has become increasingly successful, and the production of the pilot episode will commence this November. The show will present a unique opportunity for Native Americans to showcase their culture and their famous hand-made goods. For the first time, Native Americans will be able to integrate their handmade goods into a television series, and generate much needed revenue for the ailing tribes by selling these hand-crafted items via the internet foregoing the wholesalers foregoing the middle man.

"At the conclusion of each episode the announcer will state that all products seen on this episode and every previous episode can be found on our website under each one of the participating tribes and purchased directly from the artisan where they get the revenue rather than the wholesaler. The reason for this is simple, most transactions with the wholesaler the artisan gets paid $40-$200 for products that in turn sell for $2000-$4000," said Victor.

This single format can have a significant impact when the sale of one product could equal or surpass their yearly or average income of approximately $3,500 a year. Society's stereotype is that the Indians live off their casino revenues, when in reality only 3- 5% of the Nations have any significant revenue for their tribal members.

To quote Bob Wall, one of the show's producers, "This information needs to be given to the world so that the world can find out what great people the Indians are."  Bob Wall is one of the three fathers of Martial Arts in America and is the creator of Kickboxing. He is also a long time business partner of Chuck Norris.

Even with all of these hardships throughout time the Indians remain some of the most positive, loving and openhearted people that Christian and Victor have come across.  They have given them gifts of their heart, their home and their food, as well as their irreplaceable precious ancestral antiquities for nothing else but the fact of Victor's and Christian's desire to trumpet the greatness of the Indian cultures.

Yet the outside world with their "New Age" white wanna-be Indians, define what they are doing as disrespectful to the Indian people without even taking a moment to find out in detail what these fine people are doing out of their own pocket in their own challenging moment in their own medical predicament.  They have chosen to rise above self pity and focus on something meaningful to help the community as well as themselves to recover.

Because of the direct involvement of Native American elders, youth, and Tribal leaders as producers and owners of this show and non-profit,  Dream Catcher - Search For The Ultimate Warrior presents an unparalleled opportunity for the tribal people to speak of their oral histories and contributions to this fine country. For the first time in mainstream television history, the American Indians will have control of their own image.

This project, which has been warmly received by many Native American leaders, will generate much needed revenue for the tribes, and help prevent the extinction of their tribal language that is inner-connected with their culture.

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