January 28, 2019
Jackson Tisi, a New York filmmaker originally from Wyoming, directed “Good Medicine,” featuring residents of the Wind River Indian Reservation. (Photo courtesy of Jackson Tisi)
A new documentary featuring members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes debuted last week. The film, titled “Good Medicine,” shows the connections between sacred ceremonies, pow-wow dancing, and the physical and emotional benefits of skateboarding.
Filmed on the Wind River Indian Reservation and Riverton, the film features characters including James Trosper, the great-great-grandson of Chief Washakie and director of the High Plains American Indian Research Institute at the University of Wyoming . Also featured are Melissa Redman and her 12-year-old son Patrick Smith, as well as Teton Trosper, Josie Trosper, Kayson “Ezekiel” Jones and Will Hanway. The Eagle Spirit dancers and singers also appear in the film.
The film was directed by Jackson Tisi, a New York filmmaker originally from Wyoming. The film is part of a series commissioned by Facebook. Executive producers include actress Sofia Vergara, Luis Balaguer, Noah Meisner, Kathleen Grace and Emiliano Calemzuk.
“When Jackson Tisi contacted the UW High Plains American Indian Research Institute, he explained how in the media we regularly see negativity,” Trosper said. “He said, ‘We want to make a positive film,’ and I agreed to help him on that basis. Our goal is really to get a positive message across and maybe help other people who don’t unfamiliar with the Wind River Indian Reservation to develop a positive perspective of our community.
Tisi shot the film on location in October 2018 with a small crew of eight.
“‘Good medicine’ is an Indigenous term that refers to anything that can bring peace, healing and positivity,” says Tisi. “In this film, we explore how the elders find good medicine through their traditions and how young people on the reservation found it through skateboarding.”
The film focuses on the resilience of Native Americans. It shows how positivity can enable tribal members to overcome the challenges of historical trauma, finding a way to thrive while living in two cultures: indigenous and traditional.
James Trosper, director of the High Plains American Indian Research Institute at UW, is among those featured in “Good Medicine.” (Photo courtesy of Jackson Tisi)
“Youth and elders of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes find peace and healing through traditions and positive core values such as love, kindness, sacrifice, honesty, loyalty, compassion, respect, forgiveness and spirituality,” says Trosper. “These values have been passed down from generation to generation and are relevant in the lives of young people today.
It’s a departure from past national media portrayals of the Wind River Indian Reservation, which have often focused on poverty, crime and dire statistics. Previous articles from The New York Times, Business Insider and others have followed this pattern, reinforcing negative stereotypes of the reservation and leading to rebuttals from tribal members.
In contrast, “Good Medicine” brings Indigenous voices to the fore and shows the many paths to resilience and health, from dancing in traditional attire to working out tricks in the Riverton skate park.
The film will be screened on the UW campus in the College of Arts and Sciences auditorium on April 17 in a cultural presentation sponsored by Wyoming Humanities. The cultural presentation will be in conjunction with an economic development and entrepreneurship symposium focusing on ways the State of Wyoming and the Wind River Indian Reservation can work together to encourage entrepreneurship and economic development.
“Cultural arts and the creative economy are essential to our future, both in terms of creating a quality of life that will attract and retain new residents, and in terms of pure economic development,” says Shannon Smith, Director Executive of Wyoming Humanities.
Wyoming is a familiar setting for Tisi, who worked for three years as a video editor at Teton Gravity Research in Wilson. Originally from Wyoming, Tisi left Jackson Hole to attend New York University film school. His background in adventure sports videos and time spent in Wyoming gave him the idea to pitch the film to Facebook.
“This movie is about healing, and that means a lot to me,” says Tisi. “I will always be grateful for the hospitality and trust the Arapaho and Shoshone have shown us. So many people worked so hard on this movie, and I’m proud to finally release it.
Watch the movie online by following this link: https://vimeo.com/313355549.