“A Water Tale to Set You on Fire”
High Country News, December 3, 2001
by Rachel Jackson
Documentary filmmaker Drury Gunn Carr doesn’t seem to mind a little violence. Past projects with fellow producer Doug Hawes-Davis record coyote extermination, wild horse harassment and prairie dog shooting with a grim, unflinching eye.
Thankfully, Carr’s first foray into Native American issues, called WIND RIVER, has no body count. But it’s equally affecting: You walk away incensed.
Despite holding the oldest - and best - water rights in Riverton Valley, Wyoming, the Shoshone tribe isn’t allowed to send water downstream to restore fish runs, although farmers upstream legally inundate fields. The 34-minute documentary chronicles the tribe’s legal battle to change Wyoming water law, a bid that in 1991 went all the way to the state Supreme Court and failed.
As in earlier films, memorable characters tell the story: the Shoshone elder, the sugar beet farmer, and the chief justice who speaks with a smile of the tribe’s predicament: “That’s what happens when (your ancestors) lose” a war with the U.S. Afterward, it’s hard not to side with the Shoshones.
When asked about his goal for Wind River, Carr is modest. “I think it’s sort of a primer to show this is a common issue throughout the West.”