Goodbye and thank you to Carol Burns – Northwest Filmmaker


On this 40th anniversary of the Boldt Decision, news has come that filmmaker Carol Burns passed away on April 22nd in Olympia. She was a young filmmaker when she documented the struggles of the native people around Tacoma and Olympia, including Billy Frank Jr. that led up to the legal challenge that became the Boldt Decision. Her film is the only known original documentary footage that tracked the tribal people who were being harassed and arrested along the rivers of that area. Her work will survive as the lasting documentary of that era, as many of the prinicipals have now died, or are elderly. I attempted to get a new, updated documentary done on this last year, talking to many people in Olympia and Seattle, but found no real interest in it among any of the agencies or peoples that were involved. No one had any desire to fund such an independent effort, including the State Historical Society. In ten more years,  the remaining people who could tell the story first person are likely to be gone. I understand that the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission has done video interviews with many of the original tribal participants, but not as a focused documentary film. Hopefully, somewhere down the road an enterprising filmmaker will go to them and work out a way to fund a project to relook at Boldt 40+ years after.

You can watch, “As Long As The Rivers Run” on the Internet Archive here:

https://archive.org/details/AsLongAsTheRiversRun

Part of Carol’s Obituary from the Olympian Newspaper:

Carol M. Burns was born in Olympia, Washington on February 19, 1939, and passed away April 22, 2014. Carol was well known in the Olympia area for her many contributions to the causes that were close to her heart. A filmmaker, she was one of the founders of Capital Area Community Television Association, now in its 32nd year, and known as TCTV. Her best known work is the 1970 film As Long As the Rivers Run, about one Indian family and their struggle to hold on to their treaty rights and traditional way of life. A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 12:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Olympia. 

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