Sandra Sunrising Osawa is a Makah woman who forged her career in commercial nonfiction television, beginning with producing documentary series about Native Americans for NBC in the 1970s.
Osawa’s work often explores the nuances between sovereignty and the environment, as in 1995’s Lighting the 7th Fire, a PBS POV special about struggles over spear-fishing rights in Wisconsin, and 2000’s Unusual and Accustomed Places, which chronicles fishing rights battles for the Makah in Washington. In 2000, she produced and directed a documentary about Oneida stand-up comic Charlie Hill, called On & Off the Res’ w/Charlie Hill.
For Osawa, who worked in education and cultural preservation before turning to filmmaking, media is a tool for not only revitalization but decolonization: “I think media has long been an overlooked part of our struggles and true sovereignty cannot exist until we are truly able to tell our own stories.”“
Here’s a biography with info about more of her work. Here’s an interview with her.