8 April 2009 | rpmmurphy
Complex Land Issues Among Native and White Americans ...
RED EARTH, WHITE EARTH or SNAKE TREATY (1989) is based on a novel by Will Weaver who also provided the story for SWEET LAND (2005).
Successful Los Angeles business owner Guy Pehrsson (Tim Daly) is summoned by his grandfather (Richard Farnsworth) to return to the northern Minnesota farming community of his childhood.
He arrives to find that his mother (Genevieve Bujold) has left his abusive father (Ralph Waite) and is now living with Tom Redfox (Billy Merasty) on the Big Forest Indian Reservation. She is teaching in the school there; having started on a new life after being picked up by Redfox and put through the reservation's detox program.
Guy also discovers friction between the white farmers of the area (including his family)- and a new potato chip factory- with the local Indians of the reservation- who now face the choice of selling or retaining their land- and are receiving great pressure to sell.
Guy's childhood friend (and mother's companion) Redfox is leading a vocal movement among the Natives to keep and preserve their land. (The land rights in the whole area are very complex: dating back to a decades old 'snake treaty' that ended up stripping the Indians of their land- which white farmers (including Guy's family) have now legally owned, occupied and farmed for generations).
Guy becomes reacquainted with his estranged parents and childhood friends- including some joyful, funny moments- against the backdrop of the ensuing land rights conflict which seems headed towards inevitable confrontation.
A good, imperfect film, worth a viewing. (it deserves to be seen by more people).