Alanis Obomsawin's latest looks at the long shadow cast by Treaty 9.
Alanis Obomsawin (Canada, Masters)
Alanis Obomsawin returns to the fest after last year’s stirring Hi-Ho Mistahey! with Trick or Treaty?, arguably her most accomplished and enraging activist documentary yet. She turns this time to the long shadow cast by Treaty 9, the 1905 accord through which First Nations communities ostensibly signed away sovereignty over their lands to the Canadian government, while believing themselves to have also committed to a mutually beneficial alliance in an alternate spoken contract that was, of course, never taken down in print or entered into law.
Obomsawin looks at the profound trauma that moment created for the disparate First Nations activists, scholars, and students she profiles. Mixing archival documents with present-day testimony, she follows a combination of experts and novices as they retrace their forefathers’ and foremothers’ steps and try to make sense of the treaty’s legacy. If their conclusions are about what you’d expect going in, this is still a vital testament to the political ends nonfiction filmmaking can serve.