One Dead Indian
In September 1995, members of the Stoney Point Native community gathered in Ontario’s Ipperwash Provincial Park to protest a long-standing ancestral burial ground claim. In the end, protester Slippery George was almost beaten to death while Dudley George was shot dead by Ontario Provincial Police officer Kenneth Deane.
One Dead Indian is a gripping and timely television drama about this story, one of the most politically-charged events in Canadian history, followed by 10-year campaign to seek justice for the death of native protester Dudley George. The tragic story, based on Peter Edwards’ book One Dead Indian: The Premier, The Police and the Ipperwash Crisis, focuses on the Ipperwash Crisis, the tragic 1995 incident whose aftermath reverberated from Dudley George’s family and community to the halls of Queen’s Park. The movie, filmed in an area near Montreal in Quebec, stars Dakota House as Dudley George and Eric Schweig as Dudley’s brother Sam.
The real Sam George drove to Montreal in a motor home from Stoney Point (near Sarnia, Ontario) with honourary family member attorney Murray Klippenstein and ten other members from the George family, including three grandchildren. The vehicle broke down near Cornwall but that didn’t stop them from getting to set, after a quick repair job at a nearby mechanic’s shop. They were determined to see at least part of the making of One Dead Indian, a fictionalized version of the reality they’ve been living with for the past ten years. Sam George said he believes the film will touch people all over Canada, and that: “they would want to know this story”.
When the “two Sams” met, the real Sam George and Eric Schweig, who plays him, emotions ran high. The real Murray Klippenstein engaged in long talks with the actor who plays him, Stewart Bick; and Sam’s grandsons Cody George, Jerad Storr and Cameron George were all smiles when they met Dakota House, the actor who plays their uncle, the deceased hero Dudley George. Actor and activist Gary Farmer (who plays Judas George) also greeted Dudley and Sam’s brother, Sam’s wife Veronica George, his daughter Tammy Jackson and his son Don George. A great admirer of Sam George, Gabrielle Miller was honoured to have her picture taken alone with him for her own personal photo album. The energy on set was electric that day.
The interpretation of Eric Schweig in the role of Sam George is natural, true and moving. I must say that all the actors deliver a great performance in this film. The scenes in the court of justice are punctuated by flashbacks of what happened a year earlier, and by personal memories of Sam about his brother Dudley. Dudley’s death is particularly shocking, especially when arriving at the hospital by car, where members of his family – who are trying to save him by calling for help – were instead arrested and handcuffed by police, while Dudley is unconscious in a pool of blood on the back seat. Another touching scene of the film is delivered by Eric Schweig, while Sam performed in the hospital a tender purification ritual on the body of his brother Dudley.
Although the film denounces the slippage in police intervention at Ipperwash and the double standards justice, it does not fall into the Manichean stereotypes. It covers in relevant way the tensions between the First Nations and the Canadian authorities about land claims.
Director: Tim Southam
Writer: Hugh Graham, Andrew Wreggitt
Stars: Dakota House, Eric Schweig, Pamela Matthews, Bruce Ramsey, Stepen McHattie, Gary Farmer, Glen Gould, Gordon Tootoosis, Jennifer Podemski.