Loren Waters, RESTORING NÉŠKE’MĀNE Film Still 4, 2021
Loren Waters works at the intersection of film and Indigenous storytelling. In prior years, she worked for the Cherokee Nation Film Office and a documentary-style television show, Osiyo: Voices of the Cherokee People. Recently, she has been the recipient of the 2020 Next Gen Under 30, while also taking part in fellowships such as the 2021 Warner Media Bootcamp and the fourth cohort of the Intercultural Leadership Institute. Most recently, Waters was a Line Producer on the 2022 Sundance Film Festival selected short ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught), a film that is part of the Reciprocity Project by Nia Tero at Upstander Project. Recent projects include the Martin Scorsese directed feature film, Killers of the Flower Moon. Notably, Waters has worked both seasons of the hit Native focused TV show, Reservation Dogs (Hulu), and is currently its Background Casting Director.
In her own filmmaking, Water is currently in the midst of a four-film project. The first two films, celebrating tribal environmental professionals, Polly Edwards and Yvette Wiley, premiered in 2019. The third film, Restoring Néške’emāne, screened at festivals such as deadCenter Film Festival, LA Skins, Durango Independent, and recently won Best Short Documentary at North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival.
There is power in authentic storytelling. Filmmaking is becoming a modern-day storytelling tool that Indigenous communities are reconceptualizing. We can now tell our stories, reimagining a future for ourselves with tools that were never meant for us.
—Loren Waters (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Kiowa Tribe)
Waters’ LIFT project, ᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ (Meet Me at the Creek), is the fourth of a quartet of films, and focuses on interconnectedness and Cherokee values through the lifelong fight of Rebecca Jim, a Cherokee Nation citizen and waterkeeper warrior, as she leads the effort to restore Tar Creek in Miami, Oklahoma. Rebecca’s leadership in the grassroots movement in reaction to the Tar Creek Superfund Site cleanup is critical to highlight during conversations of global ecosystem and Indigenous culture revitalizations. Located in the northeast corner of Oklahoma, the site contains forty square miles of former lead and zinc mines within the Quapaw Nation. Today, the site is dominated by piles of tailings that are up to two-hundred feet high and have lead levels up to 15,000 parts per million, far exceeding the U.S. EPA standard. Every day since 1979, thirteen tons of heavy metals flow from the mines poisoning Tar Creek and the land. With an all-Indigenous production team, the film will be a critical flashpoint for conversations around global ecosystems and cultural revitalization.