Racing the Rez
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Set against the iconic landscape of the Southwest, Racing the Rez promises to yield a powerful, intimate view of transformation and hope.
In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools put it all on the line for Tribal pride, triumph over adversity and state championship glory. Win or lose, what they learn in the course of their seasons will have a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives.
"For Native culture, running is much more than a sport," commented Truglio. "It's part of their creation stories and is woven into the cultural fabric of their lives. Whether distant or recent, every family's lore contains legends of runners."
A co-production of Wolf Hill Films and Vision Maker Media, Racing the Rez moves beyond Native American stereotypes of the past and present by delving deep into the daily grind of these Native teenagers. Over the course of two racing seasons, you'll witness the boys striving to find their place among their Native people and the American culture surrounding them.
The film sheds light on the many challenges that these runners face living on a Reservation and how they come to terms with having to make cultural choices that most American youth will never encounter.
Tuba City cross-country runner Billy Orman stated that running is a way of escaping the screwed-up stuff that occurs on the Reservation. Collectively, the runners shared stories about the presence of alcohol, drug abuse, family deaths from overdosing, parental abandonment and living conditions among others.
"All of the boys in the film showed a tremendous amount of courage in the things that they shared with me," Truglio added. "I think part of it is that they needed to share this stuff and wanted to."
The two head cross-country coaches, Shaun Martin of Chinle High School and Carl Perry of Tuba City High School, recognized the opportunity for harnessing the immense running talent of Navajo and Hopi youth for obtaining more than just school championships. "These teenage years are a crucial and transitional point in their lives -- they're on the cusp of adulthood -- where they are caught between the traditional and modern worlds and have to come to a decision of whether they should leave the Reservation to seek opportunities elsewhere," they commented.Program Length: 57 mins.
Production Staff: Producer/Director: Brian Truglio
Production Company: Wolf Hill Films
The Website for Racing the Rez
Educational Resources: Viewer Discussion Guide
Public Broadcast Release: October 2012
Tags: American Graduate, high school, Hopi, Navajo, running, sports
Product ID: RREZ-11-H