The Tonkawa were once a federation of a dozen related tribes spanning from southern Texas to central Oklahoma. When the Spanish introduced guns and horses to the region, new tribes rose to dominance and this federation coalesced into central Texas. When rival tribes noticed that, despite their challenges, “they all stayed together,” the name Tonkawa was born. The Tonkawa were consistently friendly to Texas settlers, but nevertheless suffered not just one, but two trails of tears to Oklahoma including being sent to a reservation in the midst of their former enemies. After a bloody battle in Oklahoma, tribal numbers ultimately descended to less than fifty people. In recent years, the Tribe has firmly reestablished its tribal rolls to over 800, and is known regionally as a savvy but generous economic force. Yet, with only one elder who speaks the Tonkawa language fluently, the people stand on the brink of losing their tribal identity. Time is running out.
TONKAWA: THEY ALL STAY TOGETHER follows the life of the Tonkawa Tribe over two years, as they work to firmly secure their independence and prowess as a first nation in modern society. They are working to preserve, rediscover, and redefine who they are as a Tribe historically, culturally, and socially. By staying together in the midst of their challenges, this once powerful tribe seeks to secure their culture and relevance, not only today but well into the future.
TONKAWA: THEY ALL STAY TOGETHER is a fiscally sponsored project of the Austin Film Society. You can make a donation to this project here. You will receive a letter acknowledging your gift to the Austin Film Society on behalf of the project. Since AFS is a non-profit organization, your donation may be deducted from your taxes as a charitable contribution under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Andrew C. Richey has a long career both as a filmmaker and educator. His credits include Fig, directed by Ryan Coogler, a narrative short about human trafficking that was purchased and aired on HBO for two years and the critically-acclaimed documentary Code Black, which was picked up by CBS as a fictional, hour-long drama that ran for three seasons. He also worked with the internationally-renowned director Terrence Malick helping finish the experiential documentary Voyage of Time reflecting on the entirety of natural history. He has worked in entertainment on three continents over two decades.
Andrew received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Directing from Southwestern University, where he worked and studied in London for a year and obtained his MFA at the University of Southern California’s prestigious school of Cinematic Arts. He has taught dramatic arts both in the United States and Taiwan. Presently, he is a Professor in Austin Community College’s RTF program and at Southwestern University. He lives in Austin where his wife and three daughters renew his inspiration daily.