Robin Charboneau, an Oglala Sioux from North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Tribe, had a dream that convinced her she needed to tell her story. So she allowed documentary filmmaker David Sutherland to follow her journey as she struggled with alcoholism and memories of sexual abuse for three years.
The filmmaker was originally focused on the story of Charboneau’s struggle to get sober and continue her education. He started shooting in 2007 and Charboneau opened up her life and those of her children to the camera. Early on in the filming, Charboneau’s daughter Darian confided to her mother that her father, Anthony Charboneau III, had sexually abused her. Eventually Darian’s revelation became the centerpiece of the film as they tracked her father’s subsequent trial and conviction.
I’ve watched several outtakes from the film and I think it’s a must-see program.
I’m sure it’s difficult to watch some parts of the film but it has already become a compelling and unforgettable story of a woman determined to heal herself and her family after years of abuse.
A second, and more complex story emerged from the filming – that of how and why abuse is more prevalent on Indian Reservations and how Tribal law deals with it. Late in 2012 after the filming was complete, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs took control of social services on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation, citing concerns that tribal mismanagement had led to abuse of children there.
An important documentary to see.