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The Pitch

Is it better to die on your feet than live on your knees?

What would you do when faced with foreign invaders willing to employ any brutality in order to turn your land into their land?

Would you submit or resist? Appease or repel? Surrender or fight?

In 1805 these were the very real questions facing the Coyote People after they rescued a party of starving, pale-skinned and hairy-faced strangers in the foothills of the Towering Mountains and thus encountered the white man for the first time.

This Land, is conceived first and foremost as a thrilling, historical, mainstream, action/adventure, drama series which tells the story of the 'first contact' between Euro-Americans and the tribes of the Big River Plateau in the northwest of what is now the USA.

But This Land is unique in American popular culture because it tells this familiar story entirely from the perspective of the Native American characters. This is the antithesis of the racist narratives of heroic white pioneers found in the traditional Western genre and even the ‘white saviour’ narrative found in revisionist Westerns such as A Man Called Horse and Soldier Blue.

The story will be told in 5 seasons in a multi generational family saga that takes place over 70 years, with principle characters ageing from series to series as their children and their children's, children, take over as the protagonists. 

This Land is a Native American Yellowstone; it's Game of Thrones meets Dances with Wolves.

The Native American perspective that is unique to the way This Land tells this story, will be achieved not just by focusing storylines on Native American characters and their experiences, but by the use of two narrative rules, strictly applied:

(i) Only the Coyote People will speak English. All the other tribes and the white, Euro-American, characters, will speak invented 'foreign' languages that will be unintelligible to both our Coyote characters and to the audience.

(ii) White European and Euro-American characters will only ever be portrayed when interacting with one or more of our Coyote characters. Every scene will involve at least one of our regular Coyote characters.

We believe these devices mean that a mainstream audience of This Land, will have little choice but to identify with the Coyote as ‘us’ and to see the white, Euro-Americans, as the invading ‘other’; a complete reversal of traditional Western genre narratives.

We are already in conversation with DAVID PETERSON about the construction of the ‘foreign’ Euro-American languages. David has constructed languages for television series such as Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon and The Witcher.

At first sight it may appear that the overriding dramatic tension of This Land, is created by the resistance of the Coyote People to the violent, colonial, invasion by Euro-Americans in the 19th Century.

But because this series tells the story entirely from the perspective of the Native American characters, dramatic tension is created as much by the different reactions of different factions within the tribe to the arrival of the whites, as it is by the Coyote’s direct conflict with the whites.

 

These different responses will eventually lead to the Coyote splitting into two factions at the Coho Falls Treaty of 1855 - the ‘treaty’ and ‘non-treaty’ bands. Thus, the principal characters in series one reflect the beginnings of this split between those bands of the Coyote who see in Euro-American technology and culture an opportunity for their self-advancement and those who wish to maintain their traditional way of life.

This Land, is inspired by the real history of the Sahaptin speaking Native American tribes of the Columbia Plateau, including the Cayuse, Yakama, Umatilla, Klickitat, Kittitas, Wanapum, Palous, Skinpah, Walla Walla, Tenino, and Nez Perce.

However, a drama series such as this will inevitably edit, amalgamate, merge and compress real history and thus out of respect for the specific histories of the living Native American peoples of the Columbia Plateau, the Coyote People of this series are a fictionalized amalgam of various tribes.

The trickster character of ‘Coyote’ is central to the origin stories, myths and legends of all the tribes of the Plateau, hence the name of our fictional tribe.