The video documentary Winds of Change explores the plight of American-Indians as they struggle for recognition as a free people, separate and unencumbered by the federal laws of the United States of America. The Indians are The Other Americans and their reservation lands comprise the Indian Nation, supposedly as separate as France or Canada is to the US. They do not consider themselves Americans. They have their own passports and are exempted from federal taxes. Yet, the irony of their situation is that they live within American soil and most of them study and work in American schools and workplaces.
The main argument that the video discusses is defining the meaning of sovereignty for the American-Indian people. Although they have their own laws, institutions and community life distinct from those of mainstream Americans, they still have to deal with the challenges that their unique position in America continually pose. For instance, the Lummi tribe has been, for a long time, having to fend off attempts of the federal government to tax the tribe’s fishing industry. Furthermore, Western culture is threatening tribal culture.
The lure of a stable job and owning a house and car are just too tempting even to the American-Indian who grew up loving nature more than the material trappings of modern America. The future and survival of the American-Indians rests on whether they could continue to resist the culture of American materialism. Today, the native language is fast becoming lost among the newer generations. Some clan members are choosing to leave their tribes in order to marry a non-Indian. These are just some signs of the weakening grasp of the old ways among the young.
However, a most interesting fact about the documentary is showing the resilience of the people against the changes and challenges—even discrimination—that they have had to face all these years. There is the conscious effort from its chiefs and elders that, in spite what they themselves admit as to the weakening of their tribal culture, they are not giving up whatever sovereignty that they currently hold and they will strive to preserve their indigenous culture with fierce pride and protectiveness.