IMAGINING THE INDIAN – Promoting the ‘R’ Word


This emotionally charged documentary tells a tale that started 800 years ago. At this time, the citizens of 500 Indian nations were the only ones who called the US home. When their sovereignty was stolen, so their fight began. And they have been fighting ever since.


One of the many organizations doing battle is The Fight Against American Mascoting Their goal is to stop sports clubs using the names and mascots of tribes to which they have no affiliation. Not only is this exploitation, but their derisory presentations cast a slur on indigenous culture. But when wealthy organizations were informed that they were insulting their countrymen, they made it clear they didn’t care.

An appalling example of this is when, in 2000, the Cleveland baseball team was asked to cease use of their cartoonish ‘chief’ logo. Despite widespread racial justice protests, they kept it until 2018. An even more contentious battle was fought with the Washington ‘Redskins.’ They would undoubtedly still be using the ‘R’ word had Fedex not threatened to remove their sponsorship if they didn’t comply.


There are a lot more confounding stories like this, many with less successful endings. And as disappointing as these disclosures are, is it really a surprise? With America so unashamedly entrenched in capitalism, an extra kick at morality’s soul is par for the course. But what is truly shocking is that thousands of schools swim in the same pool as Big Sport. Like the clubs, they’re fully aware they’re causing offense, but they carry on regardless. Are these really the kind of people who should be guiding young Americans into adulthood?


Fortunately, however, not all hope is lost. There’s a heartwarming interview with a young schoolgirl who didn’t find out until she was a teenager that the name of her school was ‘politically incorrect.’ And when she discovered it was causing distress to millions, she was horrified. She lobbied her school board and succeeded where some very expensive lawyers failed. She got the name of her school changed. Perhaps this budding activist should spend less time in the classroom and more time on the road, explaining to unenlightened educators that all lives matter.


The fact that so many people have been fighting their cause for so long opens the door to a very big question. Why hasn’t the ‘greatest nation in the world’ made the abuse of Indigenous Culture a form of hate crime? It’s a dramatic step but if millions of Americans really think the name of their sports team is more important than the dignity of an entire race, the law has to explain that it’s not.

Friday, March 31
New York – Quad Cinema (Landmark)

Friday April 7
Washington, DC – Avalon

Friday, April 14
Atlanta – Midtown
Los Angeles – Laemmle Monica Film Festival

Friday, April 21
Chicago – Gene Siskel Film Center

Sunday, April 23
Wilmette, IL – Wilmette Theater

Friday, May 5
Kansas City – Screenland Armour
San Francisco – Opera Plaza (Landmark)

Friday, May 12
Phoenix – Shea 14 (Harkins)

More announcements soon.

imagining the indian
Imagining the Indian

Adam J. Segal • The 2050 Group – Publicity
212-642-4317 (Office) • 202-422-4673 (Cell)
[email protected] •

Sam Bardley (Co-Producer) is a documentary filmmaker with a passionate interest in telling stories rooted in his home of Washington, D.C.

Kevin Blackistone (Co-Producer) is a national sports columnist at The Washington Post
Aviva Kempner (Co-Director, Co-Producer), a Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker
Ben West (Co-Director, Co-Producer) (Cheyenne) is a freelance writer/producer
Yancey Burns (C0-Producer) is a graduate of the George Washington University Documentary Film Center
Barbara Ballow (Editor) is an Emmy award-winning editor
Produced by the Ciesla Foundation

Based in Washington, D.C., the Ciesla Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public, tax-exempt educational organization. For forty years, Ciesla (pronounced CHESH-lä) has produced documentaries that investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and celebrated the untold stories of Jewish heroes.

Imagining the Indian will further Ciesla’s mission of bringing important stories to the forefront, this time focusing on the movement to eliminate Native American mascoting.

Ciesla’s films include Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, which details the accomplishments of pioneer Gertrude Berg and her media empire, the Peabody award-winning The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the story of a Jewish baseball slugger who faced anti-Semitism in the ’30s and ’40s, Partisans of Vilna, a film about Jewish resistance against the Nazis, and Rosenwald, a documentary on Sears head and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who joined with Southern African American communities during the Jim Crow years to build 5,000 schools and supported major African American artists and intellectuals.

The Foundation recently released The Spy Behind Home Plate, a documentary about Morris “Moe” Berg, an enigmatic Jewish catcher during baseball’s Golden Age who joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to spy for the U.S. on the Nazis’ atomic bomb program. Ciesla was founded in 1979 by filmmaker Aviva Kempner, who serves as the executive director.

Ciesla’s films have received numerous honors and awards including top honors from the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, a George Foster Peabody Award, and CINE Golden Eagle Awards

Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo)
United States Secretary of the Interior, Kevin Gover (Pawnee)
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution
the late Marshall McKay (Yocha Dehe)
Former Tribal Chairman of Yocha Dehe Wintun
W. Richard West (Southern Cheyenne)
Founding Director of the National Museum of the American Indian
Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States
United States Representative Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland
Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.