Wahpeton Dakota Nation to develop six-part docuseries showing traditional way of life

Drummers perform an honour song to welcome Neema Namadamu to a women's empowerment meeting at Wahpeton Dakota Nation on Dec. 5, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Wahpeton Dakota Nation and Wahpeton Dakota Developments has entered into an agreement with a San Diego-based corporation led by Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge to develop a six-part docuseries.

The docuseries is set to focus on Dakota Wichoh’an, including their culture, history, traditions, spirituality and the development of a video library.

It will look at topics such as creation stories, the history of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation people and Ptesanwin (White Buffalo Calf Woman) who brought the original Chanupa (Pipe) and Seven Rites to the Dakota Oyate such as Inipi (Sweat Lodge ceremonies), Hambdesheya (Vision Quest) and Chanupa Opache (Pipe Ceremony).

Wahpeton will review and approve all footage before it airs to protect certain sacred ceremonies.

Pre-production is expected to begin in spring 2021.

 ‘We are excited about his opportunity to record and share our Dakota Wichoh’an for future generations and others,” said John Waditaka, Wahpeton Dakota Nation chief.

“Our people are proud of our Dakota Wichoh’an and our contributions to mankind. It is important to us that our traditions and sacred beliefs are accurately represented to others and maintained from generation to generation. This (agreement) gives us an opportunity to work with an experienced and professional partner on this important initiative for our Nation.

The San Diego company is called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA). It has science, technology and research divisions along with an entertainment division that includes film, television, books, music, art and merchandise.

 A press release said TTSA focused on stories “that inspire a new understanding for the profound mysteries of our universe.” DeLonge was the executive producer for HISTORY channel’s docuseries Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.

“The series will involve an intimate look at the rich culture and contributions of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation people while promoting … heritage, art and culture,” DeLonge, who cofounded TTSA, said in a press release.

“This is an exciting initiative for us to continue our mandate to tell deeply rich stories that will benefit the future of humanity. I am honoured that the people of Wahpeton Dakota Nation have agreed to work with us to tell their important story.”

The deal includes employment and training. The project is expected to provide “significant’ economic spinoffs for Wahpeton, the community said in a press release.

“It is important to WDN that any project involving its people includes employment and training opportunities and economic development,” said Robert Fincati, CEO of Wahpeton Dakota Developments. “This project has the potential to include both temporary and long-term employment opportunities in film, radio, television, and internet, and training and mentorship opportunities will be part of it.

In addition to the docuseries, Fincati said there are long-term plans for a potential first-of-its-kind Indigenous people television network, radio station, film company and internet podcasts.

“We are very excited about this incredible opportunity and look forward to working with Tom DeLonge and his talented team.”