The participatory roots of the
Necessity project are deep and wide.
From Native artists and activists, grassroots organizations to movement scholars and lawyers, Necessity is grounded in stories of resistance. We spotlight here
the many gifted spirits who sustain this documentary film project.
The Power in Teaching: Dr. Brook Colley
and The Indigenous Gardens Network
Dr. Brook Colley (Wasco, Warm Springs, Eastern Cherokee, Enrolled: Eastern Band of Cherokee) is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Southern Oregon University Native American Studies program and Coordinator of the Ethnic and Racial Studies program. Colley’s research is focused on federal Indian law & policy, Oregon Tribes, intertribal relations & conflict, and community health & healing. Her book Power in the Telling: Grand Ronde, Warm Springs, and Intertribal Relations in the Casino Era was published in 2019 by the University of Washington Press and was a finalist for the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction.
"Watch The Necessity Series and take action. It
is necessary to resist the hegemony of extraction economies and human-centric worldviews that cannibalize life and make us all sick. This film and the associated curriculum are tools that empower communities with knowledge and inspiration to defend the sacred!"
The Native American Studies Program at SOU recently received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to initiate the Indigenous Gardens Network - a hub for conversation and coordination around traditional food gathering areas throughout southwestern Oregon. The Indigenous Gardens Network is intended to restore areas where “first foods” and other culturally significant items can be cultivated, harvested and made accessible to Indigenous people. “The Indigenous Gardens Network centers the knowledge and expertise of Native people and communities and approaches all projects with a robust sense of accountability to them. (The network) will be Indigenous-led, driven by their needs and solutions, and based on mutual respect.”
The Indigenous Gardens Network supports tribes and other Native communities in building sustainable food systems that improve health and well-being, strengthen food security and increase their control over Indigenous agriculture and food networks. Those wishing to contribute to this work may make a donation online or contact Brook Colley (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about the Indigenous Gardens Network.
Brook is an advisor to the Necessity documentary series and wrote the college study guide for Necessity Part I: Oil, Water and Climate Resistance, which can be accessed here. Necessity is an excellent tool for outreach, bringing climate struggles and their legal consequences to a personal and practical level. As you plan a screening, utilize this study guide that includes questions for the classroom, related readings, and climate justice activities and organizations.
Samantha Praus Subverts the Conventional
Samantha’s filmography includes a series of documentaries directed by Jan Haaken: Researcher on Mind Zone: Therapists Behind the Front Lines (2014), Production Assistant on Milk Men (2015), Assistant Director on Our Bodies Our Doctors (2019) and Co-Director of Necessity Part I: Oil, Water and Climate Resistance (2020) and Necessity Part II: Rails, Rivers and the Thin Green Line (coming soon).
2021 Winner of the Puffin Foundation Emerging Directors Award
Jan and Sam on a field shoot for Our Bodies Our Doctors in Oklahoma City
"I’ve worked with Director Jan Haaken on three previous documentaries that take up ethical questions in social movements, subverts conventional or stereotypical portrayals of marginalized groups, and brings the insights of oppressed groups on the larger social order."
Sam and Jan with Deb Topping
on location for Necessity Part I
"My background in anthropology at Portland State University, where I joined Dr. Haaken’s field documentary team, shapes my approach to documentary as a medium for education and to participatory methods. After spending time at Standing Rock bringing firewood to activists camped there, I saw NECESSITY as a story that showed how the spirit of Standing Rock continues in this fight against the lethal network of fossil fuel transport and storage here in Oregon."
Selected as fellows for the Doc Society NYC 2019 Climate Story Lab
"As a team, we came out of that project with a deepened sense of urgency around the climate crisis and the importance of resistance in this region, including the fight for a Green New Deal among youth activists and direct action and other creative strategies that visually and narratively illustrate the interlocking crises of racial justice, climate justice and the pandemic. As activist filmmakers, we are committed to a “non-extractive” approach to documentary work, both by engaging throughout the process those communities whose stories are included and by contributing to their own activism.”
In Necessity Part II, Cathy Sampson-Kruse, associate producer and featured activist, explains how “She Who Watches” guides us in our fight against fossil fuels.
Tara Houska Continues to Defend the Sacred
"If people don't feel that sense of urgency, they should. They really, really should. There's nothing more sacred and more important to your survival than water."
Tara Houska of the Couchiching First Nation is a tribal attorney and Indigenous activist featured in Necessity Part I: Oil, Water and Climate Resistance and Necessity Park II: Rails, Rivers, and the Thin Green Line. She is also the founder of the Giniw Collective, a two-spirit led resistance that defends Indigenous rights on the frontlines every day.
Houska has been camped in Minnesota at the frontlines defending the land and water against the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3. This week she was brutally arrested. Democracy Now! reported on August 4 that “Houska and 19 others were held in Pennington County Jail over the weekend, where several water protectors say they were denied medical care for their injuries, were denied proper food, and some were reportedly held in solitary confinement.” Houska said that the “level of brutality that was unleashed on us was very extreme.” She posted photos on her personal instagram, @zhaabowekwe, of welts on her arm from the police shooting rubber bullets at her before the arrest.
In an interview with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan González, Houska states:
“It is so clear to me and to the many young people who are part of not just this movement, but movements across the globe, the Indigenous people who are leading the struggle to protect the last beautiful sacred places, that it is simply not working fast enough.
And for myself, if it takes seeing Indigenous bodies being brutalized to understand what is really occurring in real time, what is happening to the people as we are defending these last places, that’s what I’m willing to do. And that’s what many, many others are willing to do.”
In Necessity Part I, Houska shares her expertise in environmental and treaty law, and her knowledge of resistance strategies. She describes the disparate impact of environmental issues on Native people, as well as the unequal treatment received in the criminal justice system. She calls on allies to join this critical juncture in the fight and use their privilege to help the frontline communities.
"The resistance at Standing Rock couldn't have happened without allies. It was a beautiful coming together of people from all walks of life and all places, so you know, native people, especially here, have survived genocide, but the genocidal policies were very effective. We have very small numbers, and that is why, I think, a big reason why we remain invisibilized."
Tara is currently living at the frontlines protesting Enbridge Line 3 and calls on activists to join her during this crucial time. Visit www.stopline3.org to learn how you can help.
You can see Tara Houska on her personal social media site: @zhaabowekwe, and the Giniw Collective site: @giniwcollective.
Tara with the Necessity production team
Bold Action is Necessary in the Fight Against
Oil-by-Rail for Featured Teacher Jan Zuckerman
“There was nothing else to do, but to actually go to the site and stop the oil trains.”
Jan Zuckerman, retired teacher, Portland-based climate activist, and member of the “Zenith Five,” was arrested in 2019 for blocking the Zenith oil trains and went to trial in 2020 using the “choice of evils” defense.
Necessity Part II: Rails, Rivers and the Thin Green Line tells the story of what led her to engage in non-violent civil disobedience as a vital legal strategy in the climate justice movement.
“In telling the story of the Zenith trial, Necessity Part II celebrates the victory of communities coming together. It bears witness to our ability to build upon each other’s strengths in spite of and in response to the destructive forces of oil trains moving through our communities. This beautiful film is a testimony to what is possible, showing how the fossil fuel industry's frenzy to feed itself has also fed our movement and determination to take the necessary steps to act.”
Zuckerman is pictured at a “Stop Zenith” press conference in Portland, Oregon, on June 3, 2021. The “1267” label on a train is important to be aware of, watch the video to see her explain what “1267” means!
“I made a promise to my children and the youth that I work with… I am afraid for [their] future if we do not collectively take action.”
Jan taught in Portland Public Schools for 30 years,
and in 1995, co-founded the
Sunnyside Environmental Middle School.
In her classroom she emphasized environmental issues and climate activism, and accomplished this by creating a student-nature connection and extended her teaching past the four walls of a classroom. She made it a point to take her students into the field once a week to create a direct correlation between what they were learning in class, and their immediate environment. One year Zuckerman and her students went to Cathedral Park in St. Johns, Portland, where they were met by oil tanks and trains juxtaposed by the verdant hillside across the river. She explained it to her students as an “industrial sanctuary:” an area designated by the city of Portland as a “sanctuary” for industry. The youth were dismayed by this discovery, calling it an oxymoron, and that a sanctuary cannot be used for industry.
There is a reciprocal impact between teachers and their students, and this is highlighted in Jan’s life. She taught her students about climate activism, and they inspired her to bravely fight for their future. She now works with Extinction Rebellion and the Portland Public Schools Climate Justice Committee, as well as writing many articles for Portland publications about the dangers of Zenith Energy.
If you would like to help stop the building of the Zenith Energy tar sands oil facility in NW Portland, please sign the petition provided by 350PDX at this link: https://pdx350.salsalabs.org/stop-zenith/index.html
Art for Action with Necessity Part II
Featured Artist Asa Wright
The Necessity documentaries weave Indigenous art and motion graphic maps into the films, as well as regional photography and historical archives that provide a richly layered ethnographic texture to the stories of climate resistance. Native artist Asa Wright created an animated sequence of paintings for Part II, set in the Columbia River Gorge. The art sequence accompanies "The Monster Who Came Up the River,”a fable written by Umatilla storyteller Esther Motanic and narrated in the film by Walla Walla Chief Don Sampson. Be sure to check out Necessity II to see Asa’s work come to life.
Visual Artist | Designer | Activist
Asa is an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes from Chiloquin, Oregon though he has called Portland home for the last 20 years. He is an artist of many mediums including painting, screen printing, graphic design and cultural arts. Asa has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Portland State University and a Masters degree in Collaborative Design from Pacific NW College of Art. He blends his backgrounds in public health and art/design to work on cultural revitalization, decolonization and positive social change.
Asa also trains communities in and creates art for action, which is art that brings about awareness of social justice issues that motivates communities, people and organizations to mobilize for direct change.
“Art is like air for me: I need it to live. It feeds me, it’s an outlet, it’s healing.”