'Wind River' and Harvey Weinstein's broken promise to Native women and children in Indian Country

Promised royalties from the movie ‘Wind River’ never made it to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene star in Wind River.

THE PLAN was that every time a person watched 'Wind River,' a portion of royalties from the movie would go to The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, which works to "enhance the safety of Native women and their children."

But NIWRC says it never got any of the promised funds, and may never get a dime.

"So what went wrong?," writes Elena Saavedra Buckley at High Country News.

"Harvey Weinstein."

Great story, awful story.


Harvey Weinstein and a broken promise in Indian Country

The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana, supports work that combats the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. It advocates for jurisdictional sovereignty for tribes, supports Native-run hotlines and creates guides for tribal communities responding to missing persons cases. The agreement over the Wind River royalties was meant to acknowledge and support an organization that combats the kind of violence depicted in the film, as well as the kind for which the film's original distributor, Weinstein, was arrested.

The New York Police Department arrested the notorious film executive after multiple allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct came to a head in October 2017. Many films associated with Weinstein's production outfit, The Weinstein Company, cut ties with him; Wind River, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, was one of them. In November 2017, Sheridan announced that all further distribution royalties — likely millions to be earned, say, when the film is picked up by Netflix, shown on airplanes or sold by Redbox — would go to the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center.

But in February 2018, The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy, thus forfeiting its obligation to the royalty agreement. In July, Texas-based Lantern Entertainment acquired the assets. Lantern isn't bound by the arrangement — and, as the resource center wrote, "It remains unclear whether it will voluntarily honor the agreement." (Lantern Entertainment did not respond to a request for comment from High Country News.) The royalty agreement should have been a silver lining to the Weinstein's saga, but, instead, his actions helped terminate it.

"It's all somewhat disappointing," said Lucy Simpson, executive director of the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center. "I think we still have some hopes that that's something that might happen." After the agreement was announced, other organizations wondered how the center would use the promised funds. That, Simpson said, is the reason the group wanted to publicize the defunct agreement — to let people know that the money was never available to them.


Harvey Weinstein and a broken promise in Indian Country [hcn.org]

The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center has not received any distribution royalties from the feature film "Wind River" [niwrc.org]

• Also, don't miss the related New York Times story.

And from their website, "About the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center:"

The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the sovereignty of Native nations and safeguarding Native women and their children. The NIWRC supports culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy and provides national leadership to ending gender-based violence in indigenous communities through the development of educational materials and programs, direct technical assistance and the development of local and national policy that builds the capacity of Indigenous communities and strengthens the exercise of tribal sovereignty. www.niwrc.org

[via Tristan Ahtone]