Cowboys, Indians & Lawyers

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Media Reviews

COWBOYS, INDIANS, AND LAWYERS COVERBullfrog Films (2005), PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547
ISBN: 1-59458-379-X
57 minute DVD
(Grades 9-12, College, and Adult)

Review by Michael Thompson

Julia Dengel’s documentary about the Animas-LaPlata River Project in Colorado navigates one heavily-subsidized, highly-politicized water war in the American Southwest. A surprising number of issues keep shifting place, just as a riverbed rearranges itself in raging waters.

The A-LP project was begun ostensibly to bring justice to Indian claims and irrigation water to struggling farmers. Over time the strategies changed. But so did the goals.

Though the film seems to avoid judgment, to just let the locals tell their tale, Dengel’s real trick was to use her outsider status to achieve insider intimacy, gaining apparent access to all sides. The close-up views of Southern Ute activist Sage Remington and lawyer and water broker Sam Maynes feel nakedly authentic and are as involving as the politics.

In the end, a river, a landscape, and a way of life face destruction by a few men with money and power.

Michael Thompson (Muskogee Creek) is an English instructor and writer with published work in several journals. He resides in Farmington, NM.

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