[VIDEOS TO BE POSTED SOON!]
S.J. Wilson, The Observer
Flagstaff youth project attracting national attention
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – “If you don’t like the news you hear, create your own.” This is the premise behind the Outta Your Backpack Media project. Outta Your Backpack is the brainchild of Klee Benally and a group of high school students, founded in 2004 as a project of the nonprofit Indigenous Action Media.
Indigenous Action Media was founded in 2001 following the desecration of Camp Anna Mae – a sacred Sun Dance site in an area of the Navajo Reservation called Big Mountain. Benally and others objected to the press generated by the incident.
“We recognized that the media was very unbalanced and biased against the residents of Black Mesa,” Benally said.
“Outta Your Backpack Media was started because of the interest of young people wanting to express themselves in a positive way, especially in recognition that the mainstream press doesn’t leave much room for youth and indigenous people,” Benally explained.
“The Project looks to empower young people so that they can tell their own stories and realize that their stories are important, and they can make their own media. This is also an alternative to a lot of the negative things that young people can be involved in, like drugs and alcohol,” he added.
But one of its most important messages is that everyone has a story to tell, and anyone can make a movie, Benally said.