The Bears on Pine Ridge


The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is under a declared “State of Emergency”, after a devastating rash of youth suicides tragically reaches the highest levels in the country. Due to inadequate federal assistance, residents have taken prevention efforts into their own hands. The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s suicide prevention team (The Sweetgrass Project) is a small unit, working around the clock to manage the crisis. The film follows team leader, “Tiny” DeCory, a highly respected female and outspoken Lakota elder, as she sacrifices her own health to answer the many needs on the reservation. In an effort to empower young suicide-survivors, Tiny creates a youth performance group called The Bear Program. This dynamic group of young survivors, most who still struggle with depression and self-harm, band together as a truly inspirational collective. Dressed in big colorful animal costumes, tattered with rips and tears, the group dances energetically to loud pop music and performs comedic sketches for the community. Afterward, the “Bears” remove their outfits to open up, speaking courageously to young audiences about their own personal struggles growing up on the reservation. Through the Bear Program, these resilient youth find their “voice”, courageously speaking out to bring awareness, and bringing joy and hope to other youth in the community.

: 90 Minutes

Release: TBD 

Expiration: TBD

Distributor: WORLD

Rights: Commencing upon the first exploitation of the Program in the GBH Territory and expiring four (4) years thereafter.


Producer/Director, NOEL BASS is a mixed race Latino American artist, son of a Mexican immigrant with Indigenous roots. Noel grew up in an isolated rural community in the outskirts of San Diego county in southern California, living on a small family farm surrounded by nature. As an adult, Noel moved to Los Angeles where he spent 15 years as a professional photographer before becoming a documentary filmmaker. Since 2012, Noel has been active in learning about the modern day struggles of youth mental health and suicide on The Pine Ridge Reservation, living on the reservation while documenting the incredible first responders during a declared State of Emergency. Throughout the years, Noel has formed familial relationships with the leaders fighting the suicide crisis and began officially documenting their heroic efforts in 2015 to present.

Sonny Skyhawk

Executive Producer
Executive Producer SONNY SKYHAWK (Sicangu Lakota) is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Nation in South Dakota, a neighboring reservation to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sonny has been a cultural consultant for various major blockbuster Hollywood films and television shows, including Windtalkers and Oscar winning film, Unforgiven. Sonny is a member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, recognized for his 40 years of acting and advocating for equality in Hollywood for Native American Actors, Screenwriters, and Filmmakers. Sonny continues to serve as a human rights activist and align his efforts to bring awareness to the modern day injustices upon Native American.

Miros Gonzalez

MIROS GONZALEZ is a Mexican American with descendants from the Yaqui Tribe. Miros studied journalism at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. In addition to News Writing and Production, she also studied Political Science, Cinema, Business Administration, Contemporary Moral & Social Issues, and Ideology & Political Conflict. Ms. Gonzalez is currently completing a Public Leadership Credential at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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.