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Promised Land

Promised Land is a social justice documentary that follows two tribes in the Pacific Northwest: the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they've long been denied. In following their story, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.

  • Vasant Salcedo
  • Sarah Salcedo
  • Vasant Salcedo
  • Sarah Salcedo
  • Sarah Salcedo
  • Vasant Salcedo
  • Claire Salcedo
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    social justice, indigenous, native american, treaty rights, documentary, historical, pacific northwest
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • LA Skins Fest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    November 20, 2016
    Southern California Premiere
    Winner "Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking"
  • American Indian Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    November 7, 2016
    California Premiere
  • Ellensburg Film Festival
    United States
    October 7, 2016
  • Local Sightings Film Festival
    United States
    September 27, 2016
    Washington Premiere
  • Social Justice Film Festival
    United States
    October 17, 2016
  • Portland EcoFilm Festival
    United States
    May 27, 2017
Director Biography - Vasant Salcedo, Sarah Salcedo

Vasant and Sarah Salcedo are a filmmaking partnership based in the Pacific Northwest. They both have degrees in English Literature and Cinema Studies from the University of Washington and run a media production company together that provides affordable creative services for arts-based non-profits. They have been writing and filming for the past decade and PROMISED LAND is their first feature. Their next project after the documentary is a short musical and a female-led science fiction feature.

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Director Statement

Indigenous sovereignty is an incredibly important topic today. These communities are often ground zero in resource exploitation. South American governments are firebombing indigenous groups out of their rain forests in order to sell their land to logging companies. Australia is seizing aboriginal land and expelling its native inhabitants. Canada is giving mining and oil rights to Chinese companies from sovereign First People land. Here in the United States, we like to think we’ve finished with our colonial ways, but we haven’t. The Dakota Access Pipeline would violate many treaties and the government has already seized Apache land in the last year to give copper mining rights, as well as attaching riders to healthcare bills that would allow companies to gain access to oil and coal on reservations like the Lummi Nation in Washington State. These are the issues facing tribes that already have formalized relationships with the government.

Indigenous recognition is at the frontline of the battle for native sovereignty. These tribes—who signed treaties, helped settlers, and lost their land—are asking for their treaties to be honored. To redefine their recognition, to put blood quantum restrictions on who is and isn’t native enough, to redefine treaties over and over, continues a toxic cycle of colonialism where the government, and the corporations it partners with, continues to unlawfully profit off of the resources of indigenous lands at great peril to our increasingly climate-challenged world.

The Chinook and Duwamish tribes represent the most recognizable tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest is arguably one of the most politically liberal regions in the country. The names of our cities and towns are in Chinuk Wawa and Lushootseed, the region’s native languages. Seattle’s logo is an image of Chief Si’ahl. If in this area, with these tribes that all kids learn about growing up in school, justice can’t be found, then how does that bode for the rest of the country? This film uses the region to spark a discussion about identity and sovereignty, but the message about whose land we inhabit and how we work to right these wrongs is universal.

We began this film in April 2013 and have been honored to work with tribal communities, historians, and political allies who work on these issues. It has been a life-changing and humbling experience, and we are profoundly grateful that this story was our first feature film.

Sarah & Vasant Salcedo