NOTE: This film is ALMOST completed, and we have seen the impact it can make from our focus group screenings. Without your donation, we will not be able to do the tasks necessary too get it finished.


Historical Trauma through a Lens

Dodging Bullets confronts Historical Trauma head-on through interviews and discussions with young Natives whose lives are stricken by effects of Historical Trauma. The film explores research by professionals whose work helps develop a better understanding of Trauma, how it relates to indigenous people specifically and provides insight into ways we can improve the outcomes of Native people dealing with these challenges.


The individuals interviewed in the film come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds: for example, a middle-school student living on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation recovering from the trauma of losing her brother to a shootout with police; a former A.I.M. (American Indian Movement) veteran who, now late in life, speaks about the importance of love; sociologist and psychologists who facilitate research studies in Indian Country; a National Institute of Health-funded scientist who has studied and evaluated the epigenetic changes caused by trauma; a Native runner who has gone back to culture and is working with youth in Indian Country to teach them to lead a good way life. Live and scored Indigenous music by Dorene Day, Tall Paul, Keith Secola, Mitch Walking Elk and Karlee Fellner, provide an influential and authentic backdrop to the film as well as an insight from a musical storytellers point of view.


Award-winning Documentary

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) Awards Dodging Bullets Best of Fest and Minnesota Made Documentary Feature Competition

Jury Statement by: Jesse Roesler, Morgan Adamson, Rebecca Carpenter

The documentary feature, Dodging Bullets breaks new ground in form and subject matter. The filmmakers offer a series of largely episodic stories, intimately documented about Native American individuals who have been impacted by ethnic genocide in the United States. These episodic narratives are joined narratively in an analysis of how each of these events has contributed to an ongoing experience of unresolved Historical Trauma for many in the Native American community, in which many traumatized individuals and communities epigenetically transmit unresolved trauma to future generations. Compelling in its visual and narrative approach, it is ultimately a story of resilience and hope as the filmmakers bring a nuanced perspective to a difficult topic, demonstrating the dignity of their subjects and offering the possibility of freedom from generations of inherited traumatic stress.

North Dakota Human Rights Festival Names Dodging Bullets Best Documentary Feature Competition

In November, Dodging Bullets was screened at the Heritage Center & State Museum in Bismarck, North Dakota. Before the screening, the film was awarded The Samuel Sprynczynatyk Storyteller Award: Best Documentary Feature by the festival Director.



The Impact of Historical Trauma

Historical Trauma, a term used by social workers, historians, and psychologists, refers to the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding of an individual or generation caused by a traumatic experience or event. Historical Trauma Response refers to the manifestation of emotions and actions that stem from this perceived trauma.


First used by social worker and mental health expert, Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart in the 1980s, education surrounding historical trauma has expanded to fields outside of the Lakota communities where Yellow Horse Brave Heart studied. Yellow Horse Brave Heart’s studies focused on the ways in which the psychological and emotional traumas of colonization, relocation, assimilation, and American Indian boarding schools have manifested within generations of the Lakota population. Yellow Horse Brave Heart’s article “Wakiksuyapi: Carrying the Historical Trauma of the Lakota,” published in 2000, compares the effects and manifestations of Historical Trauma on Holocaust survivors and Native American peoples. Her studies concluded that the manifestations of trauma, although produced by different events and actions, are exhibited in similar ways within each afflicted community.  Read the Dodging Bullets Impact Statement >

Help us get the Documentary to the People

The Dodging Bullets film is currently in the film festival circuit and has received much acclaim, so you would be supporting a film that is already making a difference.

To date, this film has been independently funded with no outside influences that could control the creative content or the message of the film.


We are currently making final edits to the film from comments received from focus groups before submitting it to distributors. Funding documentary films is extremely difficult, grants are highly competitive and social justice films are vastly underfunded. 

We are at a crucial stage of completing the documentary. Funds are needed for final editing, sound design and final mix, color correction, archival transfer, and creating final versions of the film for theatrical release. We also plan on providing free distribution to Native schools without streaming access. 

Our Challenges

To date, over 350 people have contributed their time and resources to ensure that this film is delivered to viewers. We need financial help so we can continue to share the message and build an understanding of the relationships between Natives and non-Natives.  

  • Color Correction — A professional color grade and correction will give the film a polished, consistent visual style ensuring it looks professional on all platforms, DCP, DVD, VOD, etc.
  • Sound Mixing/Editing — A professional sound mix will balance all of the different kinds of audio used in the film, such as interview audio, archival audio, original score and other sound effects. Sound editing will provide an opportunity to clean up sound that was originally recorded in noisy, or less than ideal circumstances. 
  • DCPs and DVDs — These formats need to be encoded for additional screenings.
  • Aggregator fees — Platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes require an aggregator to master the film to a version that they can use.
  • E/O Insurance An errors and omissions insurance policy will help to ensure the film’s rights and protections to the interviews and all other materials used on the basis of a fair use argument.
  • Closed Captioning  Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information for people who are hard of hearing.
  • Marketing —Public Relation assets to get the film’s message into the media.
  • Native Education —We will send a DVD or screening link free of charge to any Native high school or college in North America. 

The journey so far

Our film is completed and is currently still working its way through the film festival circuit. We have won multiple awards and hosted screenings for communities across the country.

This film combines interview footage from people currently struggling through their issues related to historical trauma and cultural experts who help explain the historical and on-going issues that persist today. 

Interviews from researchers and experts in the fields of Historical Trauma include: Mellisa L. Walls, PHD of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Dr. Anton Treuer Bemidji State University, Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings Director, Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) Center, Lester R. Johnson, III Ed.D. Vice President of Workforce Development at Blackfeet Community College, Tara Houska National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, Don Coyhis President and Founder of White Bison, Inc, Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, is the Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

Film on Location in

Duluth, MN
Red Lake Nation
Fort Peck Indian Reservation
Turtle Mountain Reservation
Blackfeet Indian Reservation
Little Earth of United Tribes
Minneapolis American Indian Center
Yankton Reservation
Little Earth of United Tribes
Wounded Knee, SD
Lake Andes, SD
Scenic, SD
Flandreau, SD
Pickstown, SD
Cannonball, ND
Fort Yates, ND
Belcourt, ND
Bismarck, ND
Wittenberg, WI
El Paso, WI
River Falls, WI
Cut Bank, MT
Browning, MT
Wolf Point, MT
Poplar, MT
Glacier Colony, MT
Malta, MT
Missoula, MT
The Dakota, MSP, MN
Minneapolis, MN
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN
Federal Dam, MN
Brevik, MN
Brainerd, MN
Colorado Springs, CO
Wittenberg, WI
Appleton, WI
El Paso, WI
Winnebago, NE
Santee, NE
Niobrara, NE
Lindy, NE
Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN
Voyageurs National Park, MN
Badlands National Park, SD
Custer State Park, SD
The Bronx, NY