PERMA RED is set in Mission Valley in the 1940s. This true story follows Louise White Elk, a beautiful, wild young Native American woman. Through the course of a seven-part series, we’ll watch as Louise breaks from Ursuline Boarding School, attempts to come of age and ultimately tries to reconcile her mixed heritage.
Written by Montana author Debra Magpie Earling and published in 2002, Perma Red is the story of Louise White Elk. Based on the true stories, tales and dreams of Louise, Debra’s aunt, the story is a collage of life of Montana in the 1940s. Prior to the release of the novel, Louise came to Debra in dreams, longing for her story to be told.
The novel details the struggle to survive as a Native woman in America. Louise must first survive the Ursulines Boarding School. Next, she must navigate the love of three different men- each who represent a different path in life. Baptiste Yellow Knife, a young Salish man who can speak to snakes and knows blood magic. Their connection is palpable, their love volatile. Charlie Kicking Woman, a tribal police officer carts Louise between the boarding school, her home, and across the Reservation. Finally, is the rich and affluent Harvey Stoner. A white man with undeniable wealth, Harvey offers Louise a chance to escape the reservation. Death, love, and the longing for freedom moves the story beyond stereotypes.
Why is the story of Louise White Elk important? Native Americans are absent from film and television.
Perma Red is poised to fix this.
THE TELEVISION SERIES
Since the release of the book in 2002, Perma Red has been met with the call of hundreds of options to translate the story for film or television. In 2018, the need for the story of strong Native women reached its pinnacle. The team of Perma Red underwent a major overhaul- this including rebranding from a feature film to a television series. With the issue of MMIW reaching an epidemic, the filmmaking team launched efforts to shoot the pilot episode independently. On Indiegogo, the team was able to raise over $27,000 from almost 400 backers.
It became clear that there was an audience longing for Perma Red to make its presence known on a larger scale. After a successful media run announcing the launch of the new television series, Perma Red signed a partnership with Ramo Law Firm in Los Angeles. Together, they plan to bring the story of Louise White Elk to homes across the country. It is the story of perseverance, resilience, beauty, and strength,
So why is this story important? Why do audiences call for more of Perma Red?
A 2011 Statistics Canada report estimates that Indigenous women are seven times more likely than other women to be victims of a homicide.
A study lead by First Nations Development Institute and Echo Hawk Consulting found that largest barrier to public sympathy for Native rights was “the invisibility and erasure of Native Americans in all aspects of modern U.S. society.”
Today, Native Americans represent .4% of characters on screen according to a 2019 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report.
Statistics of involvement of Native Americans behind the camera do not exist.
The national death by suicide average for Native Americans is 16.93 per every 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 12.08 according to the CDC.