Behind the Scenes:
The Cherokee Word for Water is a feature-length motion picture that tells the story of the work that led Wilma Mankiller to become the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Set in the early 1980s, The Cherokee Word for Water begins in the homes of a small town in rural Oklahoma where many houses lack running water and others are little more than shacks. The movie is told from the perspective of Wilma Mankiller and full-blood Cherokee organizer Charlie Soap who join forces to battle opposition and build a 16-mile waterline system using a community of volunteers. In the process, they inspire the townspeople to trust each other, to trust their way of thinking, and to spark a reawakening of the universal indigenous values of reciprocity and interconnectedness. This project also inspired a self-help movement in Indian Country that continues to this day.
The movie is dedicated to Wilma Mankiller’s vision, compassion and incredible grace.
Note from the filmmakers:
Even in the 21st Century, the most unbelievable myths and stereotypes about Indian people are perpetuated in the media as well as in popular culture. As Ben Nighthorse Campbell said, “Often media outlets are being unwitting conduits for professional media manipulators representing anti- Indian groups.” Indian people and their allies must fight these misperceptions on a number of fronts by using the mass media, tribal governments, writers, teachers, curators, artists and filmmakers to dispel them. This movie is one such effort.