With Indigenous Peoples’ Day here, a new series of films created by Indigenous directors can be watched via YouTube and elsewhere, with help from REI Co-op.
REI Co-op Studios, the outdoor retail powerhouse’s in-house content arm, has teamed up with Reciprocity Project — which is a collaboration between nonprofits Nia Tero and Upstander Project — for the series of original short films made by Indigenous directors on their homelands. The films, which REI said via statement were previously released at film festivals, are now streaming at Reciprocity.org and on the retailer’s YouTube channel.
Season one of Reciprocity Project, according to REI, celebrates “cultures and learnings from Indigenous communities across Turtle Island in the U.S. and Colombia,” and the filmmakers worked alongside community partners to infuse the films with perspectives on reciprocity and relationships to the land and animals around them.
“Stories from Indigenous peoples about being in reciprocity with the Earth are essential in delivering messages of truth, healing, and transformative change,” Nia Tero managing director of storytelling and Reciprocity Project executive producer Tracy Rector said in a statement. “Our survival is the result of the efforts from many ancestors who came before us. With the Reciprocity Project films as a guide, we ask ourselves, and you: what does reciprocity mean to your community, and what kind of ancestor do you want to be?”
The first season includes “Diiyeghan naii Taii Tr’eedaa (We Will Walk the Trail of our Ancestors)” by Princess Daazhraii Johnson and Alisha Carlson (Gwich’in); “ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)” by Brit Hensel and Keli Gonzales (Cherokee Nation); “SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother)” by David Hernández Palmar and Flor Palmar (Wayuu Iipuana); “Weckuwapasihtit (Those Yet to Come)” by Geo Neptune and Brianna Smith (Passamaquoddy); “Weckuwapok (The Approaching Dawn)” by Jacob Bearchum, Taylor Hensel, Adam Mazo, Chris Newell, Roger Paul, Kavita Pillay, Tracy Rector and Lauren Stevens; “Ma’s House” by Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock Indian Nation); and “Pili Ka Moʻo” by Justyn Ah Chong and Malia Akutagawa (Kanaka Maoli).
“These seven remarkable films are an invitation to start a conversation about taking good care of each other, our families, neighbors and communities,” Reciprocity Project producer and Upstander Project creative director Adam Mazo said in a statement. “As the world navigates an escalating climate crisis, these films are designed to uplift Indigenous value systems that have steered and bolstered communities since time immemorial.”
Reciprocity Project’s producers are Taylor Hensel, Adam Mazo and Kavita Pillay. Rector is an executive producer, as well as REI Co-op director of content and media Paolo Mottola and REI Co-op Studios senior manager of content and media Joe Crosby. Co-executive producers include Cristina Mittermeier, Hindou Imbrahim and Yo-Yo Ma.
REI also confirmed that Reciprocity Project is in production for its second season with new Indigenous filmmakers from Kenya, Finland, Sierra Leone, Rotuma, Taiwan, United States and more.
“We believe stories can inspire a more equitable, empathetic outdoor community, and we are committed to elevating diversity and representation in the storytellers we partner with,” Mottola said in a statement. “We are inspired by the Reciprocity Project filmmakers and believe audiences will appreciate the perspectives and creative excellence in their films.”
REI has made its fair share of headlines to start the month. On Oct. 4, for instance, the retailer announced it would permanently close its stores every year on Black Friday, which it has done every year since 2015. That same day, Allbirds announced that it will sell a selection of products in 41 REI retail stores, including five flagship locations, as well as REI.com.