Directed by Lorna Tucker, 73 mins
One of America’s darkest secrets: the officially sponsored destruction of Native American families. Children removed from their homes, women sterilised without consent. Citizens ignored when they spoke up in protest.
In Amá, those ignored voices join together in a chorus demanding attention. Jean Whitehorse tells of her political awakening in the Summer of Love even as doctors secretly prepare to sterilise her. She’s amazed to learn that the problem was nationwide: her old friend Yvonne Swan, from Washington state, was also illegally sterilised. Meanwhile relentless activist Charon Asetoyer starts a radio station in South Dakota to amplify the voices of affected women.
Travelling across some of the loneliest parts of the USA, Lorna Tucker (Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist) contextualises these revelations by listening to victims, doctors, politicians and whistleblowers. She sets the scandal into the context of the civil rights movement, including the Native American occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. How could the voices of Native Americans have gone unheeded for so long? She finds a story of misguided attempts to “improve”, to “save” and to “civilise” Native Americans, an attitude that led to one of the most grotesque abuses of power in modern American history.