Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco wins Upper Midwest Emmy

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 General News
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ClearWay Minnesota, Twin Cities PBS coproduction named Best Topical Documentary

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday night, Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco was named Best Topical

Documentary of the year at the Upper Midwest Emmy awards gala in Bloomington, Minn. A collaboration between ClearWay Minnesota and Twin Cities PBS, the program explores tobacco use by American Indians in Minnesota.

Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco features American Indian Minnesotans discussing traditional tobacco practices, and how the commercial tobacco industry corrupted those practices into harmful behaviors like cigarette smoking. In Minnesota today, 59 percent of American Indians smoke, compared to 14 percent of the general population. Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco shows how restoring traditional ways can move people away from cigarette smoking and toward healthier living.

Accepting the award was Dakota/Diné producer Leya Hale of Twin Cities PBS, who directed the film with guidance from Anishinaabe and Dakota elders. "This project was unique, because it looks at the tobacco issue from within American Indian communities, rather than outside," said Hale. "We are so grateful to the dozens of participants who agreed to be interviewed and share their stories with us."

The film is informing diverse audiences about the differences between traditional and commercial tobacco use. American Indian health advocates are using it in innovative ways, including showing it in clinic waiting rooms on tribal lands. Additionally, it has been broadcast on public television stations around the state, and continues to be screened at Native film festivals in Minnesota and around the country, including the national American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, where it was nominated for Best Public Service film last year.

"We are very proud of this project, which is one of several collaborations supporting Minnesota tribes as they work to undo the tobacco industry's harms and improve health," said David J. Willoughby, Chief Executive Officer at ClearWay Minnesota. "Reclaiming is helping American Indian advocates, but it's also educating non-Native Minnesotans about the importance of understanding and respecting Native ways."

The film can be viewed at

About ClearWay MinnesotaSMClearWay Minnesota is an independent, nonprofit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN® stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit

About Twin Cities PBS (TPT)The mission of TPT is to "enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media." As one of the nation's leading public media organizations, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) uses television, interactive media and community engagement to advance education, culture and citizenship. Over its nearly 60-year history, TPT has been recognized for its innovation and creativity with numerous awards, including Peabody awards and national and regional Emmys. Based in Saint Paul, MN, TPT is one of the most highly viewed public TV stations in the nation, reaching over 1.7 million people each month through multiple broadcast and online channels. The organization's particular areas of focus include: the educational readiness of children; serving the needs and unleashing the potential of America's aging population; engaging a new generation in the power of public media; and being the preferred media partner for organizations that align with our mission to enrich lives and strengthen community. For more information about TPT, visit our website at or join us on Facebook and Twitter.


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SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota

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