Autry Museum of the American West



Sixth Annual LA Skins Fest at the Autry: Saturday


Date / Time:

Saturday, Nov 17, 2012, 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm


The Autry in Griffith Park: Wells Fargo Theater

Appropriate For:



Free Admission

SMOKE TRADERS takes a look at the controversy ignited by the Mohawk Nation’s involvement in the tobacco trade, raising issues of sovereignty, economic independence, and entrepreneurship versus illegal activity. For centuries, Europeans have run the North American tobacco trade. Today the First Nations people are taking it back. But is the tobacco trade a road to independence or criminality for Native people?

Where there’s smokes, there’s fire. Mohawks maintain that tax-free tobacco is a guaranteed treaty right and that the Native tobacco industry has provided an economic lifeline to their people. Whole communities have gone from rags to riches in a mere couple of decades. But the Canadian government and the police want to stop the Native trade because it means the loss of millions of dollars of tax revenue.

SMOKE TRADERS follows some of the characters and events central to the story to learn the benefits and deadly costs of the trade. Robbie is a federally licensed cigarette factory owner on the Mohawk reserve Kahnawake. He’s fighting to protect his treaty rights and legitimate business, and to expand his empire to support other reserves through the smoke trade. But his efforts are knocked down and his products seized each time he tries to sell to reserves in other provinces.

Brian is a former tobacco runner from Akwesasne, the Mohawk reserve that borders on the U.S. He’s seen the cost of living outside the law and is tired of fighting to legitimize the Native cigarette trade. He’s got a business plan for a legitimate business in alternative energy and an empty warehouse ready to be filled, but without the proper funding and support from the band council, he may have to resort to illegal smoke running to feed his family. SMOKE TRADERS puts a human face on the industry and the traders as they struggle against obstacles that threaten their treaty rights and economic security.

After the screening, there will be a reception featuring Marcus “Quese IMC” Frejo.


Ojibway writer and director Jeff Dorn creates intelligent, stirring films that evocatively speak to the human condition. From the Walpole Island First Nation, Dorn began his career as a news photographer in Winnipeg. His filmography includes working as a director for CTV News CJOH in Ottawa between 2009 and 2012, the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Television Showcase (2007-10), the Arctic Winter Games Opening Ceremonies (2004) and two television adaptions of Robert Munsch’s Winter Tales (50 Below Zero in 2004 and Baseball Bats for Christmas in 2003). Dorn’s credits with Rezolution Pictures include codirector for two seasons of the acclaimed documentary series Rez Rides, and director of photography for Club Native, a Gemini Award winning documentary. Once again Dorn turns his passionate eye on the Native community for Rezolution Pictures’ latest documentary.



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