How a People Live


Lisa Jackson
2013 | 60 minutes | Canada, Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nation
U.S. Premiere | Director in Attendance

In 1970, a controversial book, entitled How A People Die was published.  It was purportedly based on the lives of the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nation, whom the Canadian government forcibly relocated from their traditional territories on the coast of British Columbia in 1964. This response, chronicled four decades later by award-winning Anishinaabe director Lisa Jackson reverses this narrative. Through candid and moving interviews, striking archival films, photos dating back over 100 years, and a visit to the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw’s “Homelands,” Jackson vividly brings to life a people known for their celebrated art, dramatic dance traditions, spectacular potlatch ceremonies, and their strong connection to the land.

Co-presented by Film and Video Center, National Museum of the American Indian

Join us before the screening to Discover Pacific Northwest Culture

Following Lisa Jackson’s film How a People Live, cultural leaders from the Northwest Coast will hold a public conversation on the critical issues facing various Northwest Coast communities, past, present, and future. 

Past Forward, My Perspective
"In our soundbite-driven, rapid-fire modern world, it’s easy to forget our origins and our traditions—to live without a sense of continuity with the past. And though the world may look and operate very differently than it did 20, 100 or 500 years ago, human beings and the challenges we face are fundamentally the same. There is much to gain from the wealth of culture and thinking that has been forged over thousands of years by our ancestors. Not least of which is a connection to the earth and the unseen worlds.

Has Western culture sacrificed community for individualism? Has “culture" turned into style and entertainment?  Have traditions been frozen, boxed and relegated to museums and academia? Our cultures and traditions can and do breathe and adapt. They have things to tell us that can guide us. And though the term is out of fashion these days, they have wisdom."
- Lisa Jackson | Director, How a People Live