An Indigenous family, life-altering tragedy, and the community that helped them reconnect with their Lakota heritage.
In this film we meet the Hollow Horn family from Albuquerque, New Mexico – grandmother Sally, her daughter Alice, and her grandson Andrew – at the start of Andrew’s senior year of high school in the autumn of 2019.
Andrew, soon to be the first male in the family to finish high school, excitedly explores college options and anticipates senior year milestones like his last basketball season and Feast Day, an annual festival where he and the other seniors will be honoured for their achievements.
But the family’s journey to this happy inflection point has been long and fraught with difficulty.
Andrew was an elementary student when his grandfather, patriarch of the Hollow Horn household, drank himself to death, leaving Andrew’s single mother and widowed grandmother to raise him.
Estranged from their Indigenous roots by a history of aggressive Christian proselytising and filled with grief, the Hollow Horns turned to an upstart charter school with a radical education model.
The Native American Community Academy (NACA) operates on the site of the former Albuquerque Indian School which was part of a nationwide system designed to “assimilate” Indigenous children and eradicate their cultures. Today, the school serves students from more than 60 tribes with an emphasis on language, culture, wellness, community and academic rigour.
At NACA, the Hollow Horns found more than a supportive environment for Andrew – they found an extended family of tribal affiliations from across the country. There, Andrew’s confidence and sense of identity blossomed.
In his Indigenous male instructors, he discovered the role models he lacked as a child. And a fateful school-sponsored trip to South Dakota gave him insight into his tribal history that profoundly affected his whole family, helping them find closure and a sense of peace in their loss.
A film by: Scott Faris & Meg Griffiths
Producer: Alaa Alhussan
Credit to Sinte Gleska University for the archive footage and a special thanks to the Hollow Horn family.