Students at Todd County High School, on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation (in Mission, South Dakota), have a message for the world: they are more than the negative stereotypes so often associated with their people. They are more than an image of poverty, and more than alcoholism and violence. They are determined, bright, young people, and they’ve created a video exhibiting just that.
The video, More Than That, depicts students in various locations throughout their school, engaging in various activities, all with words describing their character and personalities written somewhere on their bodies. These words are the focal point of the project, which is described as a rebuttal to a national television report, that aired late last year, about life on the reservation.
Modern technology and the popularity of social media platforms, such as YouTube, have made it possible for citizen journalists to have a voice and provide their content to a broad audience of folks across the web. This development allows all kinds of different perspectives, critiques, and stories to be shared.
The students involved with the project have taken advantage of the technologies available to them and used their art as a tool of resistance. Their work resists mainstream media sensationalism and the profiteers who influence it. And, perhaps more directly, their work resists stereotypes and imposed identities in favor of self-identification.
According to a report from NPR, the students recently continued their self-advocacy efforts in Washington D.C., where they lobbied members of Congress to increase funding for schools on reservations.