Winter Count

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"An Exercise from Winter Count"
Portrait of the Main Character


This extraordinary drama, with elements of thriller, romance and fantasy, is based on the real life events of the writer and her Lakota Sioux Indian/Caucasian family from legendary Wounded Knee who went through The Massacre of 1890 and The Siege in 1973.

The film opens on our protagonist, 24 year old ABBIE KRAMER, in the year 1973. While dancing in an elaborate theatrical production, she has a catastrophic moment onstage where an image from her past overtakes her.

As her life falls apart, the film goes back in time to 1954 where, through her eyes, we are transported back into her childhood. She is living a dual existence, nine months in white suburbia and the summers at her Wounded Knee ancestral home. While visiting her Native/Anglo family there, five-year old ABBIE establishes a deep bond her grandfather, JOHN SWIFT BEAR, when he instills in her psyche their family’s legacy of peace, Lakota culture and spirit. Her passion for this life takes hold.

But her beautiful mother, CATHERINE KRAMER, damaged by brutal treatment at a prison-like school for Indians, raises her daughter to fear for her life in the white suburban town where they spend their winters. Dangerous racism there forces ABBIE to hide her Indian identity. She fantasizes about events from her grandfather's stories that make her world beautiful while bombs set off by anonymous terrorists explode at her new black neighbors’ home. In the summer of 1965, when she is fourteen, she forms a secret relationship at Wounded Knee with the mysterious JIMMY WHIRLWIND SOLDIER and they fall in love.

ABBIE returns to her suburban home and her situation deteriorates. Frightened by her mother’s dire warnings, she finds she must give up her beloved Lakota family and boyfriend whose lives are in peril on their reservation. Believing that nothing can save the Indians from annihilation, she buries her Indian spirit deep inside and throws herself into the dance world as a substitute for her Native life. Obsessed with the idea that this is her salvation, she becomes a consummate success in the white world. But she finds herself isolated and detached even from her own feelings.

In 1973, racism is running rampant all over the country, reaching a boiling point at The Chicago Democratic Convention and culminating at her Wounded Knee home. Now, she must confront her inner scars. In turmoil, she flees to Wounded Knee searching for her family and her beloved JIMMY. Once a safe haven where her family built bridges between their cultures and found peace, it is now a war zone in the heart of darkness where the largest armed conflict since the Civil War is erupting. There, when confronted by her own near obliteration, she experiences an unusual rebirth.  Recapturing her true identity, she now has the courage to reach out and create a pathway celebrating the union of many hearts and cultures.