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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

"Free Land" Tells Personal Story of Cherokee History, Homelessness

August 2, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

In her documentary film, Free Land, Minda Martin explores the impact her Cherokee ancestors have had on her family's nomadic life.

The film primarily focuses on her grandmother, Cordelia Taylor, who moved at least 43 times with her husband after the government-mandated Cherokee removal in 1830. Taylor was miserable when she first moved. The land where she grew up held deep traditions; all of her ancestors had been born, grown up, died, and been buried in the same place. "For my people," her voiceover simply states, "no one owned land." 

When Martin was a child, her own grandparents evicted her parents and sold their land when they could not afford the rent. After that, Martin and her parents were constantly moving, trying to find work. They found temporary jobs, but never reached stability.

In the most moving and compelling part of the film, Martin shows recent footage of her father accompanied by flashing text of every job he's held in Arizona and New Mexico for 40 years. He never spent more than four years in any given town and the list has everything from painter to road contractor to salesman, but it ends with "2009-present: unemployed."

Free Land was the daily film in July at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian. For more information about the film and future screenings, visit Minda Martin's website.

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