River People documents a timely issue - the clash between an ancient culture and modern society. It is the story of David Sohappy, a Native-American spiritual leader who was sentenced to a five-year prison term for selling 317 salmon out of season. For twenty years Sohappy has fished in open defiance of all state and federal fishing laws. He claims he has an ancestral right to fish along Oregon's Columbia River. As a result, he has become a symbol of resistance for indigenous people of the Northwest United States and beyond.
River People uses Sohappy's case to explore the historic conflict over the resources of the Columbia and the political controversy involving fishing rights and the right to religious freedom. Behind the controversy is the story of a man caught in a conflict between two cultures, and two seemingly irreconcilable ways of looking at the world.
American Anthropological Association, 1991
Silver Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival, 1991
Blue Ribbon, American Film & Video Festival, 1991
Best Documentary Video, American Indian Film Festival, 1990
Hawaii International Film Festival, 1990
"River People' is a first rate documentary..." - San Francisco Examiner
"David Sohappy has become an international symbol in the struggle to preserve the rights of indigenous populations." - USA Today
"Smoothly mixes archival footage with tales of Indian legends and interviews." - Video Rating Guide for Libraries
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