LINCOLN, Neb. – This year, Vision Maker Media – founded in 1976 as the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium – is celebrating 45 years of engaging Native voices in public media platforms.
“What began as a film archive to conserve and document Native American stories has, through the years, transformed into the nation’s public-media leader in content by and about America’s first people – Native Americans and Alaska Natives – for public broadcasting,” said VMM Executive Director Francene Blythe-Lewis (Diné, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Cherokee).
With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, VMM’s mission empowering and engaging Native people to share their stories remains meaningful. VMM has 28 projects in various stages of production and 34 films in public-media broadcasting, 5 of which were added in fiscal year 2020.
Its content reaches nearly 90 million Americans on public television series, including Independent Lens, POV, America ReFramed, American Masters and others.
“Every day since its founding 45 years ago, Vision Maker Media, then known as the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium, has never wavered in its mission to share Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of Native Americans,” said Kathryn Washington, senior vice president of Television Content, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “CPB is proud to be one of its earliest supporters. We congratulate them on this big anniversary and wish them continued success in fulfilling such an important mission.”
VMM is marking its 45th anniversary with a yearlong celebration of free commUNITY events, including thematic online film screenings, online virtual programs, and more. The Cherokee Nation Film Office is a sponsor of the 45th anniversary events.
March – Women’s History Month: “commUNITY: Herald Native Women,” will showcase six films free to the public for 24/7 streaming all month at visionmakermedia.org.
An online moderated panel discussion will feature Native women leaders, in partnership with Americans for Indian Opportunity, who are graduates of AIO’s Ambassadors Program–the only national leadership training that encourages Native leaders to weave traditional tribal values in a contemporary reality in order to affect positive social change and advance human rights.
April – Focus on Mother Earth and the Environment: International Earth Day on April 22 will be observed with a community-themed online film streaming event titled, “commUNITY: Environment is Sacred.” Five films will feature themes of water, energy, Indigenous food and health. The films will be available free to the public for 24/7 streaming all month at visionmakermedia.org. Additional online events and a panel discussion are also planned.
June – Youth Media Project: VMM is partnering with several Native American organizations and communities with existing and sustainable youth programs. The goal is to nurture the next generation of Native youth media makers by furthering the development of the youths’ creativity through a sequence of conceptualizing, investigating and planning, to ultimately produce a short 30-60 second PSA around the topic of wellness.
October – Indigenous Peoples Day and Halloween: Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 11 will be celebrated with a free film program that will stream online from Oct. 6-13 at visionmakermedia.org.
On Oct. 25-31, look for a curated encore of VMM’s popular 2020 Halloween horror-themed film program, “Nightmare Vision.” The program is free and open to the public and will stream 24/7 at visionmakermedia.org.
November – Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month and Veterans Day: “commUNITY: The Meaning of Home” is a short production featuring Native veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This is a Vision Maker Media-commissioned work by Charles Kennedye (Kiowa). The film program is free and open to the public and will stream 24/7 from Nov. 10-24 at visionmakermedia.org.
December – Frank Blythe Award in Native Media: This legacy award honors VMM Founding Executive Director Frank Blythe’s leadership as a path maker and recognizes a lifelong career that has supported opportunities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives in public broadcasting and radio.