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Showtime docuseries spotlights Montana's missing indigenous people

murder in the big horn.jpg
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 12:17:49-05

CROW AGENCY — A docuseries focused on the missing and murdered indigenous people problem in Montana is set to premiere on Showtime Feb. 3, and for those in the Indigenous community, it's refreshing to see the issue getting national attention for the right reasons.

In 2020, Luella Brien was frustrated. She was working as a journalist in Big Horn County and witnessed people coming to her community for the wrong reasons.

“What we had was a lot of national media coming in, just writing a headline and then dipping out,” Brien, a member of the Crow tribe and lifelong Big Horn County resident, said. “They weren’t really grasping the social issues, the cultural issues, the racial divide that was causing these cases to fall through the cracks."

So, when Showtime producers reached out to Brien last year, she didn't even respond at first.

“For me, if I was going to participate in any type of a film project, I would’ve had to really trust them,” Brien said.

And she did, as soon as she saw that some of the people involved in the project understood her culture.

“What better way to get an Indian woman to trust you than bringing two other Indian women with you," Brien said. "It’s like an instant connection because they know exactly what you feel about the issue."

Brien is among the many Big Horn County residents featured in "Murder in Big Horn", which is directed by Razelle Benally and Matthew Galkin. They're best known for their other true-crime work, including "Murder in the Bayou," another docuseries on Showtime.

Murder in Big Horn Co-directors

The film is currently debuting at the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival and sold out its first showings. Its early success proves this is a growing movement.

Brien's coworker, Rusty LaFrance, has been with her since the beginning of the filming. He says the docuseries could change the lives of many in the area.

"It's getting so much attention," LaFrance said. "I'm excited to see that the story is going to be told to a bigger audience."

It already has for one.

“It was healing for me, like this whole journey, and I think the finished product is going to be healing for the community as well,” Brien said.