Life in America has been nothing but consistent for Native Americans (I’m applying the self-identified term used in the film) since the Mayflower landed. From the first colonisers, through the Wild West and on to the modern day ghettos and casinos, they’re a group who’ve been constantly abused, killed and now discarded by the migrant populations of North America. In Jack Pettibone Riccobono’s documentary, The Seventh Fire, he looks at the issues facing the Ojibwe peoples.
Waiting to go to jail for the fifth time, Rob Brown, a Native American gang leader in Pine Point, Minnesota, is contemplating the ramifications of his actions on the Ojibwe tribal community. Not only will another stint behind bars have a devastating effect on his family, the drug culture which he’s helped foster is tearing the reservation apart. At the same time Kevin, his young protégé, dreams of becoming the next top dog.
What’s most startling about The Seventh Fire is just how everyday and normal drug addiction seems to be within the community. It’s portrayed as the norm, as is the alcohol abuse and violence which comes with it. It’s a damning indictment on American society with a whole culture seemingly falling through the cracks. With no hope of a job and zero life chances in rural Minnesota, there are very few options but to turn to crime for the young.
The Seventh Fire is out in cinemas on Friday.