While some brands have had questionable fun with Columbus Day, one has taken the opportunity to highlight the plight, and hopeful ascendance, of one Native American community as part of Indigenous Peoples Day, the counter-holiday promoting the native cultures of our country.
Credit card processing company Square, along with production company M ss ng P eces has debuted "Lakota in America," the third film in its "For Every Dream" series that examines the state of the U.S. via unique communities and businesses. The film highlights the work of the Cheyenne River Youth Project from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, one of the most impoverished towns in the U.S. The organization strives to help Lakota youth build the confidence and skills to establish solid lives for themselves, all while highlighting and celebrating Lakota traditions --a daunting task in a community stricken by poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism and suicide. In just the last month alone, the community saw two youth suicides, with ten other attempts.
Directed by Mohammed Gorjestani, the film follows the story of 16-year-old Lakota high school student Genevieve Iron Lightning. A member of the CRYP, she has overcome tremendous obstacles-- she left her neglectful, drug-troubled mother in an effort to build a life for herself and her siblings and make her community proud. It's a bittersweet tale--while bringing to light the struggles of the Lakota people on their resevation, it paints a hopeful picture. When the CRYP began in 2013, it graduate 10 interns. By the end of this year, that number will be 500.
Square itself features unobtrusively in the film-- a Square Stand can be seen very briefly in a scene showing Key Cafe, the coffee shop that employs the CRYP interns, and then the company's logo appears quickly at the end of the piece.