Martin Sensmeier tackles ‘Bears Ears’ controversy tonight on ‘America Divided’
The season 2 episode: ‘Who Controls the Land’ with correspondent Martin Sensmeier, produced by Sterlin Harjo and Lucian Read premieres tonight on EPIX
Native actor Martin Sensmeier is hosting the second episode of season 2’s EPIX: America Divided. As described by EPIX, America Divided is an original limited docu-series executive produced by Common, Norman Lear, and Shonda Rhimes, and features narratives around inequality in education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system.
Tonight’s episode Who Controls the Land features correspondent Martin Sensmeier, and is produced by Sterlin Harjo and Lucian Read.
In the episode, Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. While there, he uncovers the decades of struggle for equality by the county’s Native citizens.
A still from the EPIX series ‘America Divided” episode ‘Who Controls the Land’ with correspondent Martin Sensmeier. The episode airs starting Friday May 11th.
Sensmeier told Indian Country Today he “was extremely excited about the episode and was looking forward to it airing on EPIX.”
In an email, producer Lucian Read said he was proud of the episode and grateful to have such input from the Native community to include Sensmeier and Sterlin Harjo. “I’m one of the show’s three creators and the director and showrunner. This season I was joined by an amazing group of producers — Sterlin Harjo, Shoshana Guy and Rebecca Teitel.”
“America Divided is really a show about facing injustice and inequality. In our second season, I wanted the show to tell stories about the people who have been marginalized in this country since sometimes even before its founding — Native Americans, African Americans, rural whites, women, immigrants. Unfortunately, in our country today, as our divisions have deepened, understanding and talking about this history is growing more difficult even as it grows more necessary. But, we’ve tried to feature voices of hope, voices of reconciliation — in addition to our wonderful correspondents like Martin — to show that there are ways forward even as we acknowledge that our past and present are filled with wrongs we must face.”
“What we really wanted to do was go deeper than what became the national story about Bears Ears — which seemed to be mostly a story about politics and Trump and environmentalists. San Juan County has been a place of conflict since the first settlers arrived and has continued on that way for more than a century. The Bears Ears conflict is really only the most recent battle in what has been a long-running struggle by Navajo and Ute people in the county to regain control of the land and control of the lives from what has to be seen in many ways as a hostile white power structure. Native people their have had to fight for the right to vote, for decent schools, for electricity, for water, for decent roads. They’ve had their ancestral sites looted sometimes on an industrial scale. They’ve had to live with radioactive waste. They’ve been excluded from good jobs. It goes on and on and on. And, of course, these struggles play out across Indian Country, as Jacqueline Keeler says in the piece. This is the story we wanted to tell. This is the story that we thought a national audience needed to see, needed to understand,” said Read.
The show airs tonight at 9pm est.
To watch the show:
Those who are not currently subscribers to EPIX can access the website for streaming America Divided:
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Here is the schedule:
Episode 1 Fri. May 4th — the premiere — Washington’s War on Women with executive producer and correspondent Gretchen Carlson, produced by Rebecca Teitel and Shoshana Guy. Carlson takes viewers to the halls of Congress to uncover a pervasive culture of sexual harassment held in place for decades by a deeply flawed system.
Episode 2 Fri. May 11 — Who Controls the Land with correspondent Martin Sensmeier, produced by Sterlin Harjo and Lucian Read. Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. While there, he uncovers the decades of struggle for equality by the county’s Native citizens.
Episode 3 Fri. May 18 — There Has to Be a Better Way with correspondents Diane Guererro and Nick Offerman, produced by Lucian Read. In Part One, Diane Guerrero travels to Houston, Texas and discovers the hidden victims of this anti-immigrant era. In Part Two, Nick Offerman travels to eastern Kentucky to investigate the collapse of the coal industry and meets voices calling for a different future.
Episode 4 Fri. May 25 — Whose History? with executive producer and correspondent Jussie Smollett, produced by Shoshana Guy. Smollett travels to Tennessee to witness the growing movement to bring down Confederate monuments and commemorate the deaths of thousands of African-Americans lynched during decades of racial terror.