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CSKT "insulted" that controversial TV show wanted to show landmarks without permission

Posted at 10:07 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 15:18:46-05

PABLO — Leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) says it's "insulting" and "ridiculous" to learn second hand that a controversial TV show wanted to use local landmarks without permission.

The ABC Network's show "Big Sky" is already under fire from tribal leaders across the country for its depiction of Montana and human trafficking. Many say it takes advantage of the serious issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People for entertainment.

The objections hit closer to home this week when CSKT leaders received two emails, one from a producer, and one from a Canadian actress, seeming to indicate the Flathead Reservation was going to be depicted in the show. Yet, the tribe says no one ever applied for a permit or permission or indicated where the images were coming from.

“We're just kind of ignored in the process and it's just very insulting," CSKT Tribal Chairwoman Shelly Fyant said.

“They look like tourist snapshots. Maybe a YouTube video. I am not sure, but they seem to be sneaking around the edges. They did ask one movie person that we're familiar with for aerial footage, but, I was kind of shocked that there skulking around the corners trying to gather what they could find on the Internet. I don't believe they've sent an actual film crew in our midst," added CSKT Communications Director Rob McDonald.

But beyond the logistics, Fyant says it feels like another instance of tribal concerns being exploited, especially considering the tragedy and hurt behind the issue, "it's not just the tribal Council, but you know we have elders. We have cultural protocols in place and they ignored all of that.”

“They don't understand -- again -- that we're a sovereign nation and I don't know how to fix that. I'm hoping this is a teaching moment, Fyant said.

In fact, Fyant points to the documentary "Somebody's Daughter," released earlier this year, as a means of countering the skewed perspective of Big Sky, "you know, if they were to offer to show that documentary of real-life cases, you know I would consider that.”

“We do not want any affiliation with them. We do not want to be that token tribe or that, basically a sellout," Fyant said.