Actor and musician Moses Brings Plenty (Oglala Lakota), whose cinematic resume includes Cowboys and Aliens and The Cherokee Word for Water, is the narrator of Urban Rez, a documentary about the legacy of the Indian relocation policies of the 1950s. The original PBS program directed by Larry Pourier (Lakota) recently received a Regional Emmy Award in the category of "Best Documentary—Cultural." Brings Plenty took a few moments to speak with ICTMN about his participation in the film and the effects it had on him as an artist and a Native person.
In your own words, what is Urban Rez about?
Urban Rez is a documentary about the relocation program that President Eisenhower put into place in the early 1950's. Urban Rez helped me to understand and educate me about the relocation process. The great thing about this documentary is that it gives you the positive and the negative aspects of what the individuals faced. You see the failures.
To me, it is telling me that no matter where we go, we are still Indians. In my life there have been times where I was down and kicked around, but I always got back up again. I respect those individuals who have also been through that.
It was just a great program to work on. This film is about preservation of tradition.
What you think about the recognition of a Regional Emmy?
Man, this is huge. I am still trying to digest this, because I'm trying to think of any other native programming has ever accomplished that. I cannot think of any offhand. I am still trying to hold onto humility and calmness. It is an amazing accomplishment and hopefully this will set the pace for talented native people that have that dream.
I have a great and deep respect for Larry Pourier and producer Lisa D. Olken and everyone else was a part of this crew. It was an amazing learning experience because I grew up on a reservation and spent time on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and the Rosebud Reservations. Growing up on a reservation and then moving to Kansas City and now living in an urban setting—I get it.
What has been some of the feedback on Urban Rez?
People are like, "Man that is so educational and I did not know that." I tell them, "Of course, a lot of people don't know a lot of things about indigenous people." It shocks people that I am not upset. I tell them life is too beautiful to be upset. I want to be happy and smiling.
What is in the future for you?
Wow, that is an interesting question because, you know what, I don't know. To be truthful I think that this is one of the most annoying things that bugs my wife at the beginning of our relationship is I never know what tomorrow holds. All I know is that I have today. I have dreams, but I don't want to share my dreams because I will jinx them.
I do know that I would like to see the Kansas City Indian Center flourish and be a place for any tribal member who, when they moved to the area, they know they have a place to come and still be a part of ceremonies. I would also like to see our children stay strong in school and become doctors and become lawyers. I would also like them to not feel that they have to question who they are. Leonard Crow Dog, Russell Means and Dennis Banks—thanks to them we are able to do the things we want to do today.