You are here: Home "THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY With Billy Frank Jr." (Series Demo)

"THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY With Billy Frank Jr." (Series Demo)



Willie Frank III on the Nisqually River. Willie will be the host of THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY, completing the specials that his father started before his death in 2014.


THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY With Billy Frank Jr. was the legendary Native activist’s last major project before he passed away in May 2014.  He had completed two of the nine specials he and director Michael Harris mapped out for the series – an urgent piece on the climate crisis from the perspective of the great whaling people of the Arctic, and the powerful “Native Alaska & The Big Billy in CordovasmSpill,” which took Billy to villages still reeling from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The latter won him his first-ever Emmy Award in the coveted category of “Outstanding On-Air Host or Moderator.” At 79 he was the oldest recipient of an Emmy in Regional Chapter history.

Billy’s best work was yet to come. He and Michael began writing and shooting more episodes for the series, perhaps the most important to Billy being a special that looks back at the famous “Fish Wars” of the 1960s and ‘70s, the direct action which led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the tribes as co-managers of Washington State’s fisheries. The special was documenting two high-profile, Native-led reclamation efforts now underway to bring the fish back to Puget Sound – the Nisqually Delta Reclamation project, and the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River, home to what was once the largest salmon-producing river system in the U.S. Billy was also planning a visit his Native Canadian cousins, witnessing their ongoing battle against runaway fish farms in their ancestral waters, a grave threat to wild salmon and all the Salmon People.

“The New Fish Wars – The Fight for Puget Sound”
is highlighted by an extraordinary, historic event – the reuniting of the veterans of the Fish Wars, the great treaty fishing rights battles of the 1960s and 70s. In a campfire gathering, elders and their survivors will share their remarkable remembrances of two decades of direct action that ultimately led to the 1974 "Boldt Decision," upheld in U.S. Supreme Court in 1979.

The day will no doubt be dynamic and revealing, both reverent and irreverent, sometimes hilarious, other times heart wrenching. And those attending and sharing stories will be surprisingly diverse, from the warriors themselves who often risked their lives to continue their traditional way of living, to the volunteer litigators who had the audacity to advocate for their Indian neighbors, and then make it a winning case in the nation's highest courts, to some of the celebrities who lent their fame to the fight, like Lillian Gregory, the wiife of comedian Dick Gregory who was deadly serious about Indian fishing rights. Unlike some celebs, she and her husband demanded to be put into prison and serve time with people like Hank Adams and Billy Frank Jr.

The special will also include extended one-on-one oral history interviews with some of the Fish Warriors, as well as with some of the friends and family of those no longer with us, who sacrificed so much to preserve their way of life. For Billy, this gathering was incredibly important, because “every day we lose these stories,” that with each passing of these elders the battles they fought for treaty fishing rights become less understood by new generations. He saw a sense of urgency in creating “The New Fish Wars – The Fight for Puget Sound.” We were losing so many of his contemporaries. Then, we lost Billy.

BillyFrankmemorial“This television project meant a great deal to my father,” explains Willie Frank III, who will host the remaining episodes of the series, and present additional narratives that have emerged in Indian Country since Billy’s passing. “He knew that what we were doing was preserving these stories forever – not like some boring museum, but in a very real, living way. We were inspiring future generations to stand up and fight for our people, like we did at Standing Rock, and like how our Northwest tribes now are fighting things like fuel trains and fish farms in Indian Country. Dad even wanted to recreate the Battle of Connell’s Prairie of 1856, riding a horse into battle with Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, at war then with Nisqually Chief Leschi. But it’s not just about history, it’s about how our history informs us going forward. This TV series was always a legacy project for him, and it still is.”

'Billy is Forever...'

In 2010 Billy was nominated by his old friend Sen. Daniel Inouye for a Nobel Peace Prize, and the honors continue to be bestowed on him even after his passing. The United States Congress voted to rename the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge after Billy, and he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

“He wouldn’t have wanted that,” Willie says about the Medal of Freedom, but “he would have given the president the biggest hug in the world.” Continuing THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY is a big hug for Billy, wherever he may be now. The series will still be “With Billy Frank Jr.,” with his son sharing recurring segments of his father from previous journeys as well as animated shorts produced by Injunuity, a Native Owned Production Company in Oakland California, drawing from Billy’s talks, as well as past THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY interviews. Coordinating these pieces will be Billy’s longtime friend and collaborator, filmmaker Steve Robinson, in partnership with the non-profit organization Salmon Defense. 

MHBillyFIXnew“To me Billy was a bridge, a way for all of us to walk in two worlds,” remembers Michael Harris, an 11-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and longtime Seattle-based producer and photojournalist for ABC News. “He spoke to his people and he spoke to mine, and he brought us all together. In my 30 years in television I’ve never worked with a more dynamic, charismatic and soulful person. A network executive once told me that Billy was ‘straight out of Central Casting,’ but there was no acting in this guy. He was the real deal.

“I realize it was an ambitious thing to project eight or nine TV specials with a guy on the other side of 80,” Michael continues. “But there was something about Billy that we all saw – a sense of forever. I joked with him that he had a binding agreement with me to live at least as long as his father, Willie, who I think topped 100. But looking back now, I think what we saw in Billy was true. He is forever. I’m thrilled to be working with his son now, to carry on this amazing project that Billy and I started, that legacy of bringing people together, saving the planet, and saving ourselves.”

billy pounds fist           

"The Fight Never Ends..."
- Billy Frank Jr.  1931-2014

Vocation / Education / Entertainment / Empowerment

Created by Billy Frank, Jr. and Michael Harris

Made Possible through the Support of Individuals and Institutions such as The Kathy & Steve Berman Environmental Law Clinic, The University of Washington School of Law, The University of Victoria School of Law, Trillium Corporation, Lenga Patagonia, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Baby Wild Films, Tamaki Foundation, the Northwest Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences, Snoqualmie Tribe, Alaska Pacific University and The Institute for Village Resilience, and The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

This extraordinary project pulls together some of the region’s most accomplished educators, media professionals and legal advocates and historians to create a completely new paradigm of cultural and environmental advocacy, borne of the hopes and hardships of our First Nations. THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY is a multi‐platform series of specials and short films, following Willie Frank and the travels of his father to these spectacular and far‐flung locations, immersing in these cultures, witnessing stories and telling their own, and bringing to the non‐Native world a deeply honest and absolutely engaging experience with Indian Country. THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY is more than a television series.  It is direct action education – it a platform-transcending, living, learning tool customized for each curriculum, designed to be adaptable to all students young and old, sometimes even delivered personally to classrooms and community centers by Willie, Michael and others involved in the project.

The irrepressible message? Know your history, know your rights, find your voice, tell your own stories, make change... and here’s how to do it. To Billy, environmental justice was a human right. In his lifetime, it was worth risking his life and freedom. Because of the courage of people like him, the First Nations of the world now have within their grasp the power to protect their sacred places, stop the land grabs, fight the clearcuts, and literally turn back the tides of a warming Arctic. In our visits to these communities, THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY will take away images but leave much more – legal resources, critical global partnerships… and hope.

*See Billy Frank Jr. Scholarship / Julien Jacobs.

zs-TIIC Slide eeo-e8-BWFslideshow45-1Working with the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY will also be a vocational initiative, opening career opportunities for emerging indigenous photojournalists.* The project won’t just parachute into a location like many TV crews do, shooting for a few days and then never returning. The project will build lifelong relationships in the communities it serves. THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY will equip and mentor young villagers to the craft and disciplines of newsgathering, and of modern digital storytelling. With the help of veteran broadcast professionals, Native Alaskan youth living in Arctic villages now slipping into the sea will soon document the dramatic impacts of climate change with new, state‐of‐the‐art, 4K cameras, providing powerful images and first‐hand accounts of the crisis to the rest of the world. Pacific Islanders will chronicle first‐hand the rising sea levels that threaten their homelands. And young filmmakers on reservations throughout North America will gather intimate accounts of how tribes and bands are drawing on the legal remedies now available to them to protect and restore their natural heritage – largely because of people like Billy Frank Jr. They now have a place at the table, but as Billy used to say, “We still need to pound our fist on it from time to time.” 

MHandBillyFrankIMG 1057 smBilly Frank Jr. and Michael Harris at Billy’s 80th birthday party, attended by "800 of his closest friends," including Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Hosted and narrated by Billy Frank, Jr., Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, winner of the Northwest Regional Emmy Award for “Outstanding On-Air Host or Moderator.” Produced, directed and edited by 11‐time Emmy Award‐winning filmmaker and digital journalist Michael Harris (ABC News Good Morning America; ONE WORLD With Olivia Newton John: THE GALAPAGOS; Discovery’s Popular Science With Dean Stockwell; THE INLAND SEA With Jean-Michel Cousteau), with an original score and music by seven‐time ASCAP Award-winning composer Tim Truman (MGM’s Jeremiah, Aaron Spelling’s Melrose Place and Charmed). Director of Photography is Kevin Ely (MTV; VH1; ABC News; NBC News; CBS’s 48 Hours and 60 Minutes). Co‐written by Billy Frank, Jr. and Michael Harris. Series Consultants are University of Washington Professor Robert Anderson, Director of the Native American Law Center and Enrolled Member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; and William H. Rodgers, Jr., Stimson Bullitt Professor of Law at the University of Washington, author of "Environmental Law in Indian Country" and "The Si’lailo Way: Indians, Salmon & Law on the Columbia River."

Nine Hour‐Long Specials, Presented in 4K.  

BWF MAST23 MAST HZT23        Baby Wild Logo Large Transparent

MH Laguna San Ignacio Mexico2Principal Creative / Michael Harris
Emmy Award-winning network producer, photojournalist and filmmaker Michael Harris creates some of the most interesting television now coming out of the Pacific Northwest. His specials, films and documentaries have garnered numerous industry awards, including 11 Emmys and over 45 Emmy nominations in 15 different categories, including Producer, Writer, Editor, Director, Photographer, Composer, and Host.  He currently is ABC News's only Seattle-based Producer/Photojournalist, specializing in both breaking news coverage for Good Morning America and World New Tonight and long-format newsmagazine work for programs like 20/20 and Nightline. /  Baby Wild Films




"The New Fish Wars - The Fight for Puget Sound"
Episode Description:

A highly publicized effort is underway now to restore and protect Puget Sound, the Inland Sea of the State of Washington. An ambitious Action Plan has been crafted by a cross-section of environmental, industry and elected leaders to clean up the Sound, to make it healthy again for people and wildlife, including its endangered resident orcas and iconic salmon. Perhaps the most critical partners at the table are the 20 treaty tribes of Washington, by law the co-managers of the fisheries here. The special looks back at what got them there – the famous “Fish Wars” of the 1960s and ‘70s, the direct and uncompromising civil disobedience of Native people throughout the Pacific Northwest, defying a cross-section of federal and local law enforcement, inviting threats to life and liberty with extraordinary courage – and a surprising amount of humor – and ultimately winning the right to live as they have for time immemorial. The episode frames these Fish War stories with two high-profile, Native-led restoration efforts underway to bring the fish back to Puget Sound – the Nisqually Delta Restoration Project, and the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River, home to what was once one of the largest salmon-producing river systems in North America.


Proposed Locations Include: Frank's Landing, Puyallup River Encampment, Nisqually Delta, Celilo Falls/Columbia River

Fish Wars Reunion

r-TIIC Slide TIIC Fish Wars FireTHIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY will have the honor of participating in an extraordinary, historic event – the reuniting of the veterans of The Fish Wars, the great treaty fishing rights battles of the 1960s and 70s. In an extraordinary campfire gathering at the site of the famous Puyallup River Encampment of 1970, The event will be a remarkable remembrance of two decades of direct action that ultimately led to the 1974 "Boldt Decision," upheld in U.S. Supreme Court in 1979. The day will no doubt be dynamic and revealing, both reverent and irreverent, sometimes hilarious, other times heart-wrenching. And those attending and sharing stories will be surpisingly diverse, from the warriors themselves who often risked their lives (and some gave theirs) to continue their traditional way of living… to the volunteer litigators who had the audacity to advocate for their Indian neighbors, and then make it a winning case in the nation's highest courts… perhaps even some of the celebrities who lent their fame to the fight, like Lillian Gregory, the wiife of comedian Dick Gregory, who was deadly serious about Indian fishing rights. Unlike some celebs, she and her husband demanded to be put into prison and serve time with people like Hank Adams and Billy Frank Jr.

The special will also include extended one-on-one oral history interviews with some of the Fish Warriors, as well as with some of the friends and family of those no longer with us, who sacrificed so much to preserve their way of life. Some excerpts will be played at the gathering.  

The Fish Wars began nearly a half-century ago.  These documented stories will help ensure that the spirit of these heroic battles will endure for centuries into the future.

Hank Adams1
(Right) Hank Adams keeps the peace during the Fish Wars.
Hank is an Member of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of


Nisqually Delta

Shoots at the Nisqually Delta 
Wildlife and Scenics; Ints/Nisqually Tribe and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission; Timelapse Photography

THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY With Billy Frank Jr. will document one of the most significant habitat restoration projects in the world, at its most spectacular time of the year. Willie Frank III will lead a walking tour of the Nisqually Delta, the largest undeveloped river delta on the west coast of the United States, now given entirely and unconditionally back to Puget Sound – a gift sorely needed by the troubled ecosystem. It is now named after his father -- The Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge. Millions of drivers pass by the Nisqually along Interstate 5, between the cities of Olympia and Tacoma, and those who make that drive have watched the miracle of nature unfold before their eyes.

After a century of diking off tidal flow, the Brown Farm Dike was removed to inundate 308 acres of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in November 2009. along with 57 acres of wetlands restored by the Nisqually Indian Tribe. The Nisqually Delta represents the largest tidal marsh restoration project in the Pacific Northwest, assisting in recovery of Puget Sound salmon and wildlife populations. Over the past decade, the Refuge and close partners, including the Tribe and Ducks Unlimited, have restored more than 35 km of the historic tidal slough systems and re-connected historic floodplains to Puget Sound, increasing potential salt marsh habitat in the southern reach of Puget Sound by 50%. Estuarine restoration of this magnitude and the potential contribution to restoration science is unprecedented in Puget Sound. Because the mosaic of estuarine habitats, this large-scale restoration is expected to result in a considerable increase in regional ecological functions and services, representing one of the most significant advances to date towards the recovery of Puget Sound.

(below) Billy Frank Jr. at the "Treaty Tree," Nisqually Delta, site of the 1855 Treaty of Medicine Creek.

Nisqually BillyFrank4atTreatyTreeBeyond its importance to the health of Puget Sound, the Delta is also profoundly important to the tribes of Washington State. This is the site of the infamous Treaty of Medicine Creek of 1855, engineered by the hated Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens to pacify the Native people of the Northwest and confine them to designated reservations. However, one leader refused to play Stevens' shell game – Leschi, great Chief of the Nisqually. His resistence led to the 1855-56 "Indian War" between the Territory of Washington and the tribes of Puget Sound, and ultimately the wrongful hanging of Leschi by Stevens, the first recorded case of capital punishment in the region. For a century-and-a-half the "legal murder" of Leschi remained a deep wound in the heart of the tribes, until an unprecedented "Historical Court of Justice" was convened by Washington State Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander that at long last exonerated Leschi. Bringing the Nisqually Delta back to its completely natural, pre-contact state may be another way to heal the wounds of time.

t-TIIC Slide Elwha3
Shoots at the Elwha River 

Wildlife and Scenics; Ints/Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and National Park Service; Timelapse Photography

In September 2011, at a VIP ceremony hosted by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and attended by dignataries like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, work began on the largest dam removal in U.S. history – along the Elwha River, home to all five species of Pacific salmon, including some of the largest Chinook the world's ever seen. Just a few short months after the 108-foot tall Elwha Dam was removed, fish were already returning to their restored habitat. The last remnants of the Elwha Dam were finally gone in early March, and the Glines Canyon Dam, nine miles upstream, has been reduced to a 50-foot waterfall, with the former Lake Mills reservoir behind it almost gone.

Part of the restoration process was releasing tagged fish into the river above the lower dam to jump start the recolonization of the high-quality habitat that had been cut off from migratory salmon for almost a hundred years. So far about 60 steelhead and 600 salmon have been released into the river upstream of the former dam site. These fish are even spawning already. The return of wild, un-tagged fish that found their own way up the river without human help means that they sense that the river is open again. While out monitoring the river, NOAA scientists spotted several un-tagged steelhead. One was a robust 35 inches, bigger than any of the fish tagged and released. This is encouraging news for the Elwha and for other dam removals nationwide. It confirms what was suspected: that once the barrier is gone, fish can recolonize the river without assistance and at a faster pace than anyone anticipated. The Elwha Experiment is proving an extraordinary success story, and it couldn't have happened without the leadership and persistence of the tribes of the Northwest.

Billy with Dicks and Cantwell sm
CO-MANAGERS – Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chairman Billy Frank Jr. in 2011 at the Elwha River with Congressman Norm Dicks and Senator Maria Cantwell.

Nine Hour‐Long Specials, Presented in 4K.


Hosted and Narrated by Billy Frank Jr. and Willie Frank III

Elwha3The New Fish Wars – The Fight for Puget Sound 
Today, an extraordinary effort is now underway now to restore and protect Puget Sound, the Inland Sea of the State of Washington. An ambitious Action Plan has been crafted by a cross-section of environmental, industry and elected leaders to clean up the Sound, to make it healthy again for people and wildlife, including its endangered resident orcas and iconic salmon. But the success of this effort rests in how well this delicate coalition works together and builds a consensus – and perhaps the most critical partners at the table are the 20 treaty tribes of Washington, by law the co-managers of the ecosystem here. The special looks back at the famous “Fish Wars” of the 1960s and ‘70s, the direct action led by people like Billy Frank Jr. which culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the tribes as co-managers, and two high-profile, Native-led reclamation efforts underway to bring the fish back to Puget Sound – the Nisqually Delta Restoration project, and the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River, home to what was once the largest salmon-producing river system in the U.S. Billy also visits his Native Canadian cousins, witnessing their ongoing battle against runaway fish farms in their ancestral waters. 

Barrow IMG 0125The Iñupiat, Hanging On at the Top of The World 
Climate change is probably the biggest crisis the world faces today – and this is the front line. With every wave that comes in from the Arctic Sea up here, a piece of Native Alaska goes with it. In this urgent special, Billy Frank traveled to the northernmost point in North America to visit his Iñupiat brothers and a whaling culture thousands of years old literally melting away into the sea. THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY presents an intimate portrait of resilience and determination. Defying life-threatening conditions – made even more dangerous by thinning ice – the village crews land their whales, with the muktuk divided among the entire community. Everyone will have a freezer full of whale meat. Life goes on in Iñupiat Country. The special also explores new solutions being offered to reduce the often-prohibitive costs of relocating Iñupiat villages. The special also visits another Native Alaskan who's village is slowly disappearing because of climate change – 16-year-old Nelson Kanuk from Kipnuk. His powerful piece is presented as part of THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY's partnership with iMatter and TRUST FILMS, a series of 10 short films to document the stories of U.S. youth standing up in court to compel action on climate change. 

f-TIIC Slide BWF MAST21 MAST HZT42Native Alaska & the Big Spill 
This special documents Billy Frank's travels to Native Alaskan villages still reeling from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, visiting subsistence hunting grounds and sacred sites still stuck in the muck of persistent and toxic oil. From Cordova and the Native Village of Eyak, to the Native Villages of Chenega and Tatitlek, all the way to the Native communities on Kodiak Island, some 250 miles from where the Exxon Valdez ran aground, the film culls the voices of tribal members, providing powerful testimony to the economic and psychological impacts the spill has had on a culture thousands of years old. But this isn’t about misery; it’s about resilience, determination, hope. The special also travels to the southern reaches of Prince William Sound and the majestic Copper River Delta, the largest undeveloped system of its kind in North America – home, some would argue, to the best salmon on Earth. Billy's son Willie returns to Native Alaska to hear how protecting this extraordinary ecosystem, which was miraculously spared from the spill, may actually be the key to saving it all. 

za-TIIC Slide hawaiian-protest-2The Nation of Hawaii – 3,000 Miles From America 
Countless programs have traveled to Hawai’i; this may be the first to actually visit The Nation of Hawai’i. It’s an extraordinary journey to Paradise, a look at how that Paradise was lost… and how people like Bumpy Kanahele and Emmett Aluli are fighting to find it again. Today, the Nation of Hawai’i Movement may have found its foothold – the Island of Kaho’olawe. At some 44 square miles the smallest of Hawai’i’s eight main volcanic islands, Kaho’olawe was once known as “Target Island,” training ground during WWII and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. In 1976, Members of Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) began a series of occupations of the Island and filed suit in Federal District Court in an effort to halt the bombing. A series of court victories and shrewd negotiations followed over the next decade, ultimately resulting in Kaho‘olawe being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated the Kaho‘olawe Archaeological District. In 1993, Sen. Daniel Inouye sponsored Title X of the 1994 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which authorized conveyance of Kaho’olawe and its surrounding waters back to the State of Hawai‘i. Congress also voted to end military use of Kaho‘olawe and authorized $400 million for ordnance removal. The Island was at last returned to the Hawai’ian people by formal agreement. The Legislature established the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve and the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission to manage it, directing that the island and its surrounding waters can be used only for Native Hawai’ian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes and prohibiting commercial uses. "The Nation of Hawai'i" also includes a rare trip to The Forbidden Island of Ni'ihau, privately owned since 1864 and off-limits to everyone except the 130 Ni'ihauans who live there, speaking only a unique dialect of the Native Hawai'ian language.   

Tiger3The Miccosukee & The Pay-Hay-Okee (Everglades) 
The Miccosukee number only about 550 members, but their influence resounds throughout the region. And much of that has to do with Chief William Buffalo Tiger. Born in a small village in the Everglades in 1920, he grew up immersed in the traditional customs and language of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, descendants of Indians who escaped deportation under President Andrew Jackson’s removal act in the 1800s. Making their home for generations in the remote reaches of the Grassy Water, the Miccosukee have been able to retain much of their older way of life. As the modern world encroached on the Miccosukee and the Everglades shrank around them, Buffalo Tiger became an energetic and outspoken leader of the community. He and other Miccosukee fought for years to escape the shadow of the larger, better known and more politically powerful Seminoles, and to get official recognition for the tribe. When the U.S. government said the tribe would lose its recognition in 1959, Buffalo Tiger traveled to revolutionary Cuba with other members of the tribe, where he was greeted by Fidel Castro and officially received, government-to-government. Not long after his trip, the U.S. recognized the Miccosukee. Buffalo Tiger, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 94, would go on to design the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, legislation that allowed the secretaries of the Department of Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue contracts and grants to Indian tribes. The act awarded tribes with more sovereignty, eliminating the need for them to go through an Indian agent before going to the government. Today, they remain leaders in protecting the water quality of the Everglades. Host Willie Frank takes viewers on an intimate tour of Miccosukee Country with Buffalo's son, Lee Tiger, to talk about the legacy of the great Pay-Hay-Okee warrior and the future of Native Floridians. 

Makah2 smThe Makah & The Whales 
This episode traces the trials and tribulations of a remote Indian tribe determined to save its culture. The Makah Nation is the only whaling people in the Lower 48, a treaty right secured in 1855 in exchange for much of what is now the spectacular Olympic National Park. And yet, the “Cape People” voluntarily gave up whaling in 1920 after commercial whalers wiped out the migrations off their coast. When they secured U.S. and international permission to resume the hunt in 1999 following the de-listing of the gray whales, animal rights activists poured into Makah Country and started a war on the water before the world’s media. This episode traces how The Makah, with the support of their tribal brothers throughout Indian Country, weathered the worst, made a powerful statement, and started looking to the future. The special also examines The Makah’s extraordinary efforts to protect the northwestern-most corner of the Continental U.S. – including protecting the region from a catastrophic oil spill that could wipe out all creatures great and small, including the region's endangered killer whales. As the only deep-water port along the first 70 miles of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Neah Bay is a critical station for a full-time rescue tug. 

072508casinoCulture & The Casino Business 
Low-stakes gambling has always been a part of American Indian culture. Now, the stakes are as high as they come. Indian gaming is now a $25 billion-a-year industry that has transformed some impoverished tribes into major financial and political players in their communities. During the current economic crisis, it’s one of the last growth sectors of the American economy. Some 227 tribes now operate 419 gaming facilities in 30 states. Although many tribes have not been able to ride the industry's boom because they’re in locations too remote to operate successful facilities, the casino biz is still holds one of the greatest promises in Indian Country. But can culture co-exist with The Gambler? For the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest tribe, gambling has deep cultural resonance. Their oral tradition includes stories warning about the dangers of overindulging in gambling. Many feature a character known simply as “The Gambler,” whose skill wins him nearly everything in the universe but nearly costs him his life. It's a familiar story throughout the Hopi and Zuni reservations as well. But for a reservation plagued by poverty and an unemployment rate that hovers around 50 percent, Navajo leaders are looking to casinos as an opportunity to spur economic development on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. 

selknam cazando smEl Fin del Mundo: The Last of the Fuegians 
This spectacular, unprecedented special takes viewers to the southernmost human-habitated place on Earth, the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, the last frontier of Chile and Argentina. The indigenous people here belonged to several tribes, including the Ona (Selk'nam), Haush (Manek'enk), Yaghan (Yámana), and Alacaluf (Kawésqar). Some were "the canoe people," inhabiting the coastal regions and relying heavily on sea lions and other marine life. Others, like the Selk-nam, lived inland and survived primarily by hunting guanacos, majestic wild relatives of llamas that still populate Tierra del Fuego. Native Fuegians however do not. When Europeans, Chileans and Argentines settled on the islands in the mid-19th century, they brought with them measles and smallpox for which the Indians had no immunity. Where the population wasn't devastated by these diseases, they were hunted down like wild vermin, with bounties put on their heads. Some were even kidnapped by a French expedition a century ago and put on display as "cannibals" in cages under the Eiffel Tower, fed scraps of meat before gawking Parisians. Their numbers plummeted from several thousand in the 19th century to hundreds in the 20th century. Today, there is only one – Cristina Caulderon, the last surviving original Yamana, now living in Puerto Williams, Chile. To the Fuegians, this may be el fin del mundo, the end of their world, but we're just beginning to learn the lessons of their tragic story. And with numerous "undiscovered" tribes still thought to be living in the wilds of South America, threatened by both old curses (disease) and new (energy development, deforestation and climate change), the cautionary tale of the First Nations of Tierra del Fuego is as urgent as ever. 

Billy LeschiChief Leschi & How to Unhang an Indian 
This final installment in the series is a very special history lesson – as only Billy Frank Jr. could've given. Billy was a Nisqually Indian. All his life he’d been hearing and passing along the story of the hanging of the greatest Nisqually of all – Leschi, War Chief of the Medicine Creek Nations during the 1855-56 “Indian War” between the Territory of Washington and the Tribes of Puget Sound. Leschi was the first recorded case of capital punishment in the Territory. The Chief's descendents and historians now agree it was a travesty, a “legal murder” at the hands of his Leschi’s nemesis, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens. They say Leschi was wrongly put to death for the killing of an enemy combatant – A.B. Moses, a Colonel in the Territorial Volunteer Militia who was serving with the U.S. Army troops based at Fort Steilacoom. His hanging remains a deep wound in Indian Country here, as well as a source of shame among much of the non-Native community – Leschi’s name adorns elementary schools, parks and a neighborhood in Seattle, even on a building on the Army base that once confined him. An unprecedented Resolution from the Washington State Legislature asked the State Supreme Court to vacate Chief Leschi's conviction and de-publish the record of murder. In response, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and the descendants of Leschi and the Nisqually Tribe decided to convene a “Historical Court of Justice” at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. On December 10, 2004, the judges reviewed and ruled on the case one more time. The verdict – not guilty. Nearly a century-and-a-half after his hanging, Chief Leschi was at last exonerated. For tribal members and descendants of the Tribe's last Chief, it was at long last an opportunity to set the record straight and clear Leschi's name.