A single life can inspire an entire movement, even when that life is cut short. Documentarian Kris Kaczor’s feature film, Big Crow, is the story of one such life. SuAnne Big Crow was born in one of the most impoverished communities in the United States — South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The picture looked bleak for the youth of the Lakota tribe: 90% unemployment, terrible health care, two grocery stores covering land the size of Connecticut, and a future of either meth addiction or suicide. On top of all that, the culture of the Lakota people was slowly disappearing as its native language was no longer being taught to the next generation.
In the late 1980s, as a young teen, SuAnne Big Crow was determined to change the destiny of the Lakota tribe. Not only was Big Crow an excellent student, but she was quite gifted at sports, particularly basketball, and led her school to a state championship. It was her love and dedication to her culture that stood out. In turn, Big Crow’s pride in her people was infections to those around her, and her skills on the court served as a bridge to the neighboring communities, which saw Native Americans as nuisances (to say the least).
“…SuAnne Big Crow was determined to change the destiny of the Lakota tribe.”
By the age of seventeen, the legend of SuAnne Big Crow was infamous across the Great Plains of South Dakota. She was a leader and example to adults and youth alike. Unfortunately, her work would be cut short by her tragic death in a car accident. Thirty years later, VHS footage of her basketball prowess and examples of her love and pride for her culture surfaced. Kaczor puts them on full display in Big Crow.
What the director does so well throughout the documentary is placing his subject on her proper pedestal. The film is not short of interviewees who had glowing praise for Big Crow, be it her family, high school friends, or distant admirers. Kaczor also offers a comprehensive history of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the reneged agreement with the government, and the rapid economic decline of the community.
From SuAnne Big Crow’s death comes hope. As many would say, her spirit is always present to guide her people. The engaging and inspirational Big Crow shows it only takes one person to make great things happen.
For more information, visit the Big Crow official website.
"…engaging and inspirational..."