Experiencing Interruptions?

Little Wound's Warriors

As Pine Ridge Indian Reservation faces the lasting effects of inter-generational trauma as well as a recent teen suicide epidemic, the voices of Little Wound High School students rise up in hope through their traditions, language, and the Lakota warrior heritage.

  • Seth McClellan
    King in Chicago, Creative Writing, Chicago Heights
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    57 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    4k and HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Gene Siskel Film Center's Stranger than Fiction documentary series
    January 21, 2017
    "stunningly beautiful" - TimeOut Chicago
  • American Indian FIlm Festival
    San Francisco
    November 10, 2016
    Winner - Best Public Service Award
Director Biography - Seth McClellan

A versatile filmmaker, Seth McClellan has produced and directed narrative and documentary films that have aired on TV and screened around the world. He's also acted in films and on TV. He was listed in 2014 as one of the 50 most influential Chicago filmmakers by New City Magazine.

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Director Statement

LITTLE WOUND’S WARRIORS, the documentary we shot in January of 2016, means a lot to me. It is the story of a proud and dignified people that was all but written out of mainstream American history books. At the same time, it is a story I feel that we non-Native Americans must know if we are to be honest with ourselves about who we are and where we come from. It is likely an inconvenient story for some who prefer to think of this country as their own and wish to forge ahead accordingly. Yet this story, like the Lakota people, is real. It is breathing. It has not gone away, nor will it.
Seth, the director, and I were entrusted by the film’s many interviewees from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who gave their time and honesty to make sure this story could be passed along in a good way. I see this trust as the incredible and undeserved fruit of having lived and worked here for nearly two years, giving what I could of myself in service to the community. In return, it was my goal to make sure this film was something that the participants - and indeed the community as a whole - could be proud of, something that aptly distills the complex experiences and deep wisdom of a people that deserves to be heard. In sum, I wanted this film to reflect my own awe and respect of the important lessons I believe the Lakota have to teach all people.
I met Ed Young Man Afraid of His Horses on Pine Ridge in September of 2013. He welcomed a large group of us from Chicago to his home in Kyle, South Dakota, where he saw himself as a steward and caretaker of the land more than as an owner of property. During only a long weekend there, I learned more about what it meant to live in this world, connected to the Earth and all of its fellow inhabitants, than I had in my previous 36 years. I felt as if I really prayed for the first time even though I was raised and spent countless hours of my formative years in the Catholic church. After a life-changing few days with Ed, I knew that I had so much more to learn and perhaps it was finally time to leave the lights and busyness of Chicago.
By March of 2014, I had been offered a position at Little Wound High School where Ed had worked for more than 35 years. Although officially he was the school’s “Attendance Officer,” Ed was known to wear many hats - as a greeter, a security officer, a joker, a counselor, a home liaison, and, perhaps most importantly, a relative to all. His office was a large blue and yellow milk can with a tractor seat affixed to it. Here, like everywhere he went, he would make students feel like they mattered simply by listening and sharing his perspective, most times with a wry joke tossed in. Ed was also known as an excellent powwow dancer, although, instead of dancing for contest money as more and more dancers do, he did it for those who were no longer able to dance.
I arrived back in Kyle in late July of 2014 to begin teaching. Only two weeks later, Ed made his journey to the Spirit World. Although I would never see him in the flesh again, I began to realize that he was never too far away. I heard him in the words of my students, his many young relatives. I saw their eyes light up when I mentioned his name. I started to recognize that the message I had heard so profoundly - about the interconnectedness of all things, about the importance of giving and sacrifice for others - was not Ed’s alone. But then again he never claimed that it was. Simply put, Ed was a good human being who tried to do as much good as possible. In the process, he positively affected countless people around him, myself included.
I was glad I had known him.
Ed lives on in the way of life that unfolded in the interviews, in the beliefs and values that weaved their way through each individual’s unique stories to tie them all together with a common thread.
LITTLE WOUND’S WARRIORS would not have been made without the courage and openness of Ed Young Man Afraid of His Horses to share the important teachings of the Lakota people. In turn, I believe Ed would be proud of the same courage and openness of the film’s participants in sharing their own truths.
We decided to dedicate the film to his memory and I hope that in our small way we are helping spread his profound message and honor his spirit and life.