About the Project
Tonkawa: They All Stay Together is being filmed in Tonkawa, Oklahoma and various sites in Central Texas. A modern day connection was sparked with the Tribe when a small group of Austinites rediscovered stories from the 1840s about the Tonkawa Tribe uniting with the citizens of Austin to help protect them from outside threats and attacks.
After attending tribal events, meeting tribal members, learning the tribal history and absorbing Tonkawa culture, an idea was jointly born to explore together what a film project might look like. The exploration lasted one full year so that trust and a strong foundation for collaboration could be built between all artists contributing to story, as either tribal members or friends of the Tribe.
Filming has been in process for over a year and is expected to last through 2024.
The collaborative approach starts with the mutual understanding that the project will serve as a voice of the Tonkawa as a whole, an ongoing process that gives the Tribe as much control as they desire. Consent for the project is considered an ongoing process to be renewed at every sitting with individuals and requires continued unanimous approval of the tribal executive committee. Story decisions are made with the approval of the executive committee as well as input from each tribal participant in the film. Editorial decisions are made in conjunction with the executive committee and each participant.
Because of the Tribe’s desire to work and function as a singular, united family - the Tribe as a whole is recognized as an Executive Producer, forgoing any individual producing credit.
The shared goals of this project are to collectively convey through the summation of all the tribal participants: the Tribe’s history, who the Tribe has become today, and where the Tribe is heading in the future.
Because the Tribe was forcibly removed from Texas, it was the request of the film crew that initial funding be raised as much as possible from Texas and that the primary contribution from the Tribe be their willingness to spend time telling their story in their voice.
- Show the Tonkawa Tribe as the full, beautiful tribe that they are today - their struggles, their culture, their heart - both as individuals and as a family.
- Show the pride of the Tonkawa Tribe and capture it in a way that the youth of the Tribe and those who do not know the Tribe can celebrate.
- Correct revisionists history. Some text books still list the Tribe as extinct. They are not.
- Act as a platform for those who may only know the Tribe through history books, as patrons of their businesses, or the namesakes of places in Texas and Oklahoma, to understand the totality of the Tribe and who they are.
- Preserve what language and dance remains today.
- Assist in researching and uncovering culture, art forms, and language lost to American expansionism and stolen through forced boarding schools and assimilation.
- Recognize the Tonkawa as the Original Peoples of current day Central Texas, the stewards of its land for millennia.
- Celebrate the Tonkawa and their culture.
The film, including all footage not included in the final film, will additionally serve as information in museums in both Texas and Oklahoma, so that accurate and first hand accounts of their history and culture can be preserved, as it exists today, and never lost again.