Our Lives In Our Hands examines the traditional Native American craft of basketmaking as a means of economic and cultural survival for Aroostook Micmac Indians of northern Maine. Filmed between 1983 and 1985, when the US government did not yet officially recognize their tribal status and before their successful land claim (1991), this documentary aims to break down stereotypical images. Basketmakers are filmed cutting brown ash trees in the winter woods, at their craft in their homes, at work on local potato farms and at business meetings of their tribal cooperative. First person commentaries are augmented by music based on an early 17th-century Micmac melody.
"This documentary film, in which our voices are going to be heard and in which we show how we live, how we work, and ways we have chosen to continue the lives of our fore fathers and mothers, will make an important difference. The Aroostook Micmac Council has fully supported this project. The Micmac Indian community is thankful and proud to share our lives with all of you in the hope that this film contributes to a better understanding of who we really are." -- Chief Donald Sanipass
Our Lives In Our Hands is distributed by Documentary Education Resources (DER) in Watertown, MA. DER's archive is one of the most important resources for ethnographic film in the world today.