Valley of Thundering Water (in production)

For centuries, wild horse have been essential to Native American life.  Now, their survival depends upon grass roots activists to save them from slaughter.

Since their origin in America, wild horses have roamed America's Great Plains.  Throughout history, Native people have revered horses as essential for travel, hunting, warfare — and a source of prestige and wealth.  They call the wild herds "Horse Nation."

Today, horses continue as emblems of culture and tradition.  But modern tribal life has diminished their usefulness and role.  Some tribal governments see them as a nuisance or direct competition to more valuable livestock. 

Now, Native activists from from across the Great Plains are taking steps to protect Horse Nation.

The high desert mountains and canyons just outside Window Rock, New Mexico are the heart of Horse Nation on the Navajo Reservation.  It is also the home of Navajo artist and animal rights activist Ron Toahani Jackson.  For generations, Jackson’s family, the Watchtakers, have lived on this land.  The Watchtaker Ranch sits in a sprawling valley lined by red mesas and towering buttes.  It's one of the last refuge areas for wild horses on the Navajo Reservation.  Ron has been waging a one-man war with area ranchers and his own tribal government to save and protect wild horses.

The Navajo Nation has been conducting roundups of wild horses, offering $100 per head.  Many of these horses are sold to “Kill Buyers,” horse brokers who ship them to Europe or Asian meat markets, where they are slaughtered for food.  Ron vehemently disagrees with tribal decisions.  He insists that traditional values be maintained — wild horses are sacred and must remain that way.

Ron seeks to expose injustices committed against the Horse Nation by photographing and videotaping inhumane roundup practices.  Ron believes tribal members are out of touch with traditional values.  As a result, he's been threatened, intimidated and finally assaulted by tribal members for successfully stopping a horse hunt planned by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

But the roundups continue.

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