Our Lives in Our Hands | Folkstreams

Our Lives in Our Hands (1986)

About the Film

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.


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Karen Carter, Harald Prins, the distributor Documentary Educational Resources, or Folkstreams.

Film Details

  • Film by: Karen Carter, Harald Prins
  • Produced by: Karen Carter, Harald Prins
  • Cinematographer: Eric Muzzy, Robert Brady
  • Sound: Stuart Mann
  • Editor: Bruce Jehle
  • Other Credits: Music by Stuart Diamond. Music based on a song by Micmac Shaman Chief Sagamore Henri Membertou (1510-1611). Ethnographic consultant: Bunny McBride. Assistant camera Darryl Mitteldorf. Assistant sound Linda Ende. Research consultants Harald Prins, Bunny McBride. Stills by Nova Scotia Museum, Parks Canada, Queens County Museum, Steve Lapidus. Rerecorded at Trans-Audio by Dick Vorisek. Opticals by TRI-PIX Film Service, Inc. Negative cutting by Lawrence Mischel. Color by TVC Laboratories, Inc.
  • Funding: Sponsored by the Aroostook Micmac Council ; Funded by a major grant from the Maine Humanities Council, Inc., The Vera List Foundation, and private contributions
  • Original Format: Film: 16mm
  • © 1986 Carter/Prins
  • 49mins, Color
  • Categories:
    Arts & Crafts, TraditionalWorkRural LifeNative American Cultures