climbing rocks in Monument Valley, grass dancing at Crow Agency
or playing a pickup game of basketball in the land of Chief Joseph,
to thousands of American Indian children, the reservation is home.
Linda Ellerbee traveled to three Indian reservations this summer
to interview dozens of kids, ages 11 to 15, for a 30-minute news
program for the cable network Nickelodeon.
have a great sense of humor based, I think, on a recognition of
the absurdities of the world," Ellerbee said in a Monday phone
interview from her office in New York City.
conversations are funneled into the Nick News Special Edition, "This
Land Was My Land: Kids on Reservations." The show aired at
8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, on Nickelodeon.
Ellerbee found in the wide-open spaces of Western tribal reserves
were youths like kids everywhere. Grounded in their culture, they
listened to music, rode bicycles, watched TV and clicked online
to their favorite Web pages.
usual, we talked to more kids than are in the program," Ellerbee
youths from Crow Agency, Mont., are featured in the program. They
talk with honesty about the beauty of their reservation, the poverty
they face and how the non-Indian culture perceives them.
portions of the show feature kids from the Navajo Reservation in
Utah and the Nez Perce in Idaho. The Navajo is the largest of the
three reservations, and the Nez Perce reservation looks like a checkerboard
of white and Indian neighborhoods and communities. The Crow Agency
has maintained a fluency in its traditional language better than
the other reservations, according to Ellerbee.
more (youths) were fluent on the Crow Reservation than the other
two," she said.
doesn't sugarcoat the program for its youthful audience, revealing
that eight out of 10 people at Crow Agency are unemployed. She also
says that the Crow, Navajo and Nez Perce reservations have some
of the poorest communities in the United States. Some Navajo children
go to work at a young age to help their families. Others talk about
the subtleties of discrimination.
a young girl from Crow Agency, Mont., said, "It's like America,
set about reporting the stories because they comprise one of the
many threads that make up the fabric of American history as well
as who we are.
happens to kids on reservations is our story," Ellerbee said.