Twenty years after his exile from the reservation, the pursuit of forgiveness between a son and his ailing father leads to the discovery of identity in modern-day Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.D.
In Oakland, California, Beau Thompson (35) lives with no sign of his Native heritage. He teaches auto-mechanics classes to at-risk youth at the local community center and struggles to find purpose in life. He has trouble opening up to his attractive neighbor Sarah and connecting with her young, troubled son.
Far away on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Beau’s ill father Ron demands to see the estranged son he sent away 20 years earlier.
Initially rejecting a return home, Beau flies to Pine Ridge, where he reunites with his mother Mary, a respected community leader; Cheryl, his strong-willed younger sister; Russell, his high-school friend; and most importantly Ron, his complex and charismatic father.
After continually disavowing his family, Beau begins to listen and accept his family’s difficult past and current struggles; including his father’s traumatic experience at government boarding schools and fights with alcoholism; his sister’s fight for acceptance of her sexual identity; and his mother’s effort for change on the reservation. Through this lens, Beau examines his own issues of trust, troubled relationships and violent teenage years.
Eventually, Beau unearths the suppressed incident that caused his expulsion from the reservation: as a troubled teenager he and Russell beat a boy and left him to die in the snowy plains. This terrible incident devastated his community and forced a young Beau away from his family. Just as Beau painfully accepts this responsibility, his father Ron is rushed to the hospital near death.
At this point, Beau yearns to have an “Indian Awakening”; venturing on an ill-informed “Vision Quest”, where he comes close to death in the unforgiving Badlands. After his recovery back on Pine Ridge, Beau’s mother Mary gives him a truer awakening, putting Beau face-to-face with the complex daily struggles of modern reservation life.
These real experiences force Beau to re-consider his rush for identity and begin down a long path for a truer, deeper understanding of modern Native identity, both on and off the reservation.
Beau flies back to Oakland and reunites with Sarah and her son; able to open up about his past and family; he can now be a father-figure to a young man.
Screenplay by Andres Torres-Vives and Jesse Short Bull
This project is endorsed by:
Northern Plains Native Film Commission, S.D.
Film Independent, Los Angeles
"Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country? God made me an Indian."
Tatanka Iyotake / Sitting Bull