SOURCE: Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes

October 20, 2009 13:15 ET

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes First to Use New Media to Tackle Old Problem

PABLO, MT--(Marketwire - October 20, 2009) - Indians have a different set of laws, don't they? They don't pay for health care and they get a free college education, right? Wrong. Even for those who live on or near the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, it can be hard to know what's a myth and what's the truth.

The myths that surround Native Americans are deeply entrenched and are called generational misinformation, racism or even cognitive dissonance. That's why Montana's Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are tackling the problem head-on. The Tribes have launched an aggressive marketing effort to put to rest misnomers about American Indians. And, they're doing it in a very 21st-century way.

Called "the rez we live on," the campaign weaves together a cutting-edge viewing experience -- found at http://therezweliveon.com -- with multimedia tools, video and animation, which is marketed with coffee jackets and billboards. According to CSKT Communications Director Robert McDonald, the goal is to reach everyone, especially the media-savvy younger generation. "Young people and new residents in the area may be more open to the Tribe's message. But the fact is that lifelong residents may not have heard a lot of this information either."

McDonald believes that passed-on misinformation has been the norm for so long that, "it's hard for people to know what is the actual truth."

So how does it work? Billboards stationed along Highway 93 in and around Polson, St. Ignatius and Arlee, Montana will tempt drivers to visit http://therezweliveon.com. Web visitors will experience a montage of faces -- rendered in a unique style known as photo cutout animation -- that come to life with the click of the mouse. When clicked into action, the characters on screen will start a lively discussion, which prompts the start of an animated movie. Finally, a small screen pops up that provides further information and clarification, ultimately setting the story straight.

McDonald says the campaign is another example of CSKT's efforts to find the best ways to work with its neighbors. "People may learn something from this campaign, but the idea was to make it fun as well. I hope the community will take some time to explore the site."

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