BEST SOUTH DAKOTA DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Into the Circle
Meg Griffiths, Scott Faris
Meg Griffiths, Anpao Duta Flying Earth
Into the Circle tells the story of a resilient Indigenous family, their journey through life-altering tragedy, and the community that helped them reconnect with their Lakota heritage.
Statement from Filmmaker
American education is at a crossroads – factions promoting universal teaching standards ignore the specific cultural touchstones that students bring to the classroom, and successful national charter management organizations aggressively scale learning models that fail to take local context into account. This on top of a system that has historically underrepresented the perspectives of Indigenous peoples and other communities of color. INTO THE CIRCLE demonstrates the significant, personal impact that education models based on developing whole children can produce. Through the intimate account of a family courageous enough to share their struggles with a broad audience, the film offers an alternative to our contemporary schooling model by illustrating that physical and mental wellness are meaningfully connected to learning, that a child’s culture and language can be used to unlock profound growth in understanding and maturity, and that a school should be a true community for students and their families rather than simply a place children go to acquire knowledge. This is a story that can spur necessary conversations about the evolution of public education in the 21st century. Since 2013, the Native American Community Academy has operated at the site of the former Albuquerque Indian Boarding School, educating students from over 60 tribes. Most importantly, INTO THE CIRCLE is a testament to the virtues of a family from a region of the country – South Dakota’s reservations – that is characterized almost exclusively by narratives of poverty, alcoholism, and victimization. Though the Hollow Horns are touched by these issues, the film makes a deliberate effort to frame their story through an asset-based lens, showing how they found agency through their culture and history. This, too, should encourage dialogue and corrective action around the stories our society promotes to define Indigenous groups and the places they’re from.