There is a group of people living in cities around the U.S. that are largely unseen. These people were promised many things by our government and are still waiting for these to be fulfilled. These people have been uprooted and shuffled around and still can’t entirely call a place home. These people fought alongside other groups during their battles for civil rights, and most wouldn’t have seen that these people were fighting someone else’s battle.
“We were at protests for Cesar Chavez, we were boycotting grapes. I didn’t have a grape or lettuce until I was 12 years old,” says Kris Roadtraveler Longoria in the documentary “Urban Rez,” which will premiere on May 2 at 8 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS. The documentary brings to light the effects of urban relocation on American Indian tribes and their future generations, and how they were able to maintain their culture in a world that had no place for them.
“We were so confused where we stood in this black and white world as Indian people,” Marilyn Pourier explains in the documentary while recalling looking for a public water fountain in the 1950s, “What we found were two water fountains side-by-side, and one said black and one said white. We had no idea what we were supposed to do and what would happen if we used the wrong fountain, so we didn’t use either one of them. We didn’t get a drink.”
“Urban Rez” illustrates these experiences through interviews with the people that were relocated and their children. It addresses the shame, confusion, pain and frustration that these people lived through, but also highlights the opportunities that they received through this attempt to end the federal reservation system. Whether positive or negative, relocation is still something that these people deal with today.