Crying Earth Rise Up

57 min | Documentary Feature | Suree Towfighnia & Debra White Plume

Crying Earth Rise Up tells the story of two Lakota women who work to expose the human cost of uranium mining and its impact on sacred water.  Debra White Plume is a grandmother and tireless leader in the fight to protect her people’s water and land from corporate polluters. Debra is the lead plaintiff in a case challenging uranium mining on Lakota treaty territory. Elisha Yellow Thunder intimately understands the dangers of contaminated water. A young mother and a geology student, she unknowingly drank water with high levels of radiation while pregnant with her first daughter, whose severe medical anomalies are life-threatening. Crying Earth Rise Up documents the growing movement of Native and non-native people of the Great Plains in their battle to stop the expansion of uranium mining.

Release: 2015

Suree Towfighnia

Suree Towfighnia is a director, producer, director of photography, and documentary educator originally from Chicago, IL. Her films "Crying Earth Rise Up" and "Standing Silent Nation" were broadcast on PBS and garnered awards in competitions and festivals. Suree produced Haskell Wexler's documentary "Four Days in Chicago" about the 2012 actions against NATO. Suree’s current project, "Nurturing Roots", documents specialty coffee growers in southern Mexico and incorporates child-centered narratives and animation.

Debra White Plume (Oglala Lakota)

Consulting Producer/Writer
Debra was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Her adult life was dedicated to Lakota cultural preservation and revitalization, including work to protect treaty rights and human rights. She was an active community organizer working at the grassroots level and internationally with the United Nations where she participated in the drafting of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples and Issues. Debra’s activism spanned over 45 years -- from the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973 to the Standing Rock occupation in 2016. Upon her death in November 2020, the New York Times described her as “defender of her tribe.”

Tantoo Cardinal (Cree/Metis)

TANTOO CARDINAL is a Cree/Metis actor, writer, and activist, and arguably the most widely-recognized Indigenous actress of her time. She has broken barriers for Native representation, combining her prodigious talent and presence with a fierce commitment to honouring Indigenous people. Tantoo is best known for her roles in Falls Around Her, Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Where The Rivers Flow North, and Smoke Signals.

Walt Pourier

Vice Chair

Walt is Oglala Lakota and created the logo for Urban Rez. He is Creative Director, owner of Nakota Designs Advertising Designs and Graphics. Executive Director of the Stronghold Society nonprofit dedicated to instilling hope and supporting youth movements through Live Life Call To Action Campaigns.


Program Coordinator

(Hataža Mani Winga)​

"Cinema Aficionado"

Role: Jordana is excited to engage with different Native/Indigenous communities. Her passion for working with youth will help develop the Native Youth Media Project. She will also assist with the Creative Shorts Fellowship (CSF) to help organize deliverables for filmmakers.