PBS Premiere: July 2, 2002Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Statement

I grew up on Bainbridge Island, which is just a stone's throw from the Port Madison Indian Reservation, home to the Suquamish Tribe. As a kid, I would ride my bike to the reservation during fireworks season and stuff my knapsack with as many bottlerockets as it cold hold. By the time I was an adult, the Suquamish 4th of July festivities were the centerpiece of my Independence Day routine. Then, I moved to Suquamish, and spent several years living on the reservation. I realized that there was a deep chasm between the Indian and non-Indian communities and I wanted to find out why. Independence Day and the phenomena of the fireworkers seemed to establish some common ground, a chance to discuss the issues facing the Suquamish Nation.

It seems to me that we are at a critical juncture in the history of Indian and non-Indian relations. The federal Indian policy is a labyrinth of legal and economic precedent that is being challenged every day by tribal communities through a myriad of means, but particularly in the courts. Native communities throughout the United States and Canada are empowering themselves in order to reclaim their native heritage, rectify injustices, and develop political and economic power as sovereign nations.

In the end, Boomtown tells the story of a small town guided by simple American ideals. Yet the film acts as a metaphor for a larger political landscape. I hope this film will move audiences to investigate what divides -- and brings together -- neighboring Indian and non-Indian communities to promote discussion about how we are inexorably linked in a relationship that dates back to the very genesis of American democracy.

Bryan Gunnar Cole, Director