Prisoners of the Past

A fascinating portrait of indigenous people around the world who still find themselves stuck in social patterns from the past.

Prisoners of the Past

Prisoners of the Past

A twelve-year old Greenlandic girl flees the police. On the verge of passing out she drops a bottle of gin and finally surrenders – so drunk that the officers have to carry her to detention.

Thousands of miles away – in one of the wealthiest countries in the world – young Australian Aboriginals grow up in communities you would expect to find in a third world country. The only way out seems to be a one-way ticket to prison.

In just ten years the Indian casino industry has become a powerful billion-dollar business – but only a few Native Americans are profiting from it as originally intended. Now a tiny powerful elite uses all means to keep out critics.

Fascinated by the final remnants of the past, governments and tourists alike praise indigenous culture and traditions. But behind the decorated facades a completely different reality is played out. On our trip around the world we paint a picture of indigenous people who, because of colonial guilt and political correctness, have become prisoners of the past.

Also available as a 4 part series:

For young indigenous people life is a struggle. A struggle between past and present, a struggle to break out of poverty and a struggle to get an education. This series looks at the life of indigenous people. What kind of future do they have?

1. Escape from Greenland

Large numbers of frustrated young Greenlanders are leaving their native country. Tired of home rule politicians whose first priority is independence from Denmark. Meanwhile, the country struggles with massive social problems.

2. The casino Indians

Casinos run by American Indians are a billion dollar industry. But tribal leaders are being accused of corruption and greed, as the vast majority of Indians still live in extreme poverty. Those who protest are being harassed or thrown out of the tribes.

3. Caught in a trap

Young Sami women have gone from being family caretakers to living modern lives, through education. Young Sami men, without much education, try to hold on to traditional life, herding reindeer. But as traditional jobs diminish, they are caught in a trap.

4. From poverty to prison

The Aboriginals of Australia lead all the wrong statistics: unemployment- , social security-, and crime rate figures top the charts. The situation is so desperate that many young aboriginals see only one way out of poverty. To commit a crime and go to prison.

Director & Producer Poul-Erik Heilbuth
Produced by DR
Co-Produced by SVT, NRK, Yle, RUV & TSR
Duration 58 min. & 4 x 28 min.
Year of Production 2007
Original Title Fanget i Fortiden