The 1960s and 70s US government drive led to the eradication of a tribe – as revealed in Lorna Tucker’s moving follow-up to her Vivienne Westwood film
Having made a splashy debut with Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, a portrait of the flamboyant designer and salonista Vivienne Westwood, documentarian Lorna Tucker’s follow-up feature tacks in a much grittier, less glamorous direction, eschewing the high fashion boutiques of London and Paris for the flat plains and humble homes of some the western world’s poorest, most oppressed denizens. The multi-stranded story examines how the systematic programme of sterilisation of Native Americans in the 1960s and 70s, a policy that resulted in the eradication of a whole tribe – has affected several people’s lives.
Front and centre is Jean Whitehorse, a Navaho woman whose gentle eyes belie the streak of strength that’s help her to survive a lifetime of poverty, abuse at the hands of several partners, dependency issues and, of especial interest here, a tubal ligation she was talked into as a young woman when she was at a desperate point in her life. Tucker manages to contact several others like Whitehorse who went through the procedure, depriving them of a chance to build families within their community, and creating an emotional devastation that lasted for generations.
Amá review – shocking story of Native Americans' mass sterilisation