The Cherokee Word for Water to Be Released on DVD & Itunes

“The Cherokee Word for Water is a very rare story because it is about the empowerment of people who have been made to feel they have no power. Like Wilma Mankiller’s philosophy, it shows us that change grows from the roots up, the bottom up, like a tree.” — Gloria Steinem


Tahlequah, OK -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/09/2014 -- In honor of Native American Heritage Month producers Charlie Soap and Kristina Kiehl will release the inspirational feature film, The Cherokee Word For Water, on DVD and iTunes November 18th, 2014, the late Wilma Mankiller’s birthday.

The Cherokee Word For Water follows young Wilma Mankiller, played by Kimberly Norris Guerrero (Longmire, Broadway’s August: Osage County), and Charlie Soap, played by Moses Brings Plenty (Hell on Wheels, House of Cards), on their quest to bring running water to the homes of the poor, predominantly fullblood Cherokee community of Bell, OK. Facing a legacy of distrust of government, financial limitations and government regulations, the pair must convince the community to lay 18 miles of water line across challenging terrain, entirely through their own volunteer labor. They invoke the concept of “gadugi”—Cherokee for working together for the common good— They inspire and empower young and old, Indian and non-Indian to undertake, and eventually complete the daunting project. The Bell project garnered the attention of local and national media and sparked a self-help movement in Native America that survives to this day.

The Bell project lead Mankiller to being elected the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and a globally recognized Indigenous leader. In 1998, President Bill Clinton honored Mankiller with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In the spirit of the Bell Project, Soap, Wilma's husband and thirty-year partner in community development and Kiehl her longtime friend, made the unconventional choice to hire locals, many of whom worked on the water line, to act in the film alongside the professional actors. Upon the film’s completion in 2013, they continued this grassroots philosophy in a distribution campaign focused on public policy leaders, tribes, communities, schools and organizations. To date, the film has enjoyed over 140 screenings with venues ranging from small town football fields in Oklahoma to the US Capitol, Civil Rights celebrations honoring Freedom Summer to a gala event at Lincoln Center in New York City and Ford Foundation and UN Conference of worldwide Indigenous leaders. The DVD/iTunes release is the next step in ensuring Mankiller’s inspiring legacy is shared with viewers around the world.

The DVD will be available for purchase through the film’s website,, and through iTunes. Profits from the film will benefit the newly created Wilma Mankiller Foundation, which is committed to continuing Mankiller’s work for appropriate Native media, social justice, and community development in Native America.

About The Cherokee Word For Water
Paul Heller (Enter The Dragon, My Left Foot) and Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, served as Executive Producers of The Cherokee Word For Water. The film also received support from the Ford Foundation, Gloria Steinem, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, Pixar Studios and the Choctaw and the Chickasaw Nations, among many others. The film won Best Theatrical Motion Picture at the 2014 Western Heritage Awards, was nominated for Best Film at the 2013 American Indian Film Festival, (with Brings Plenty and Guerrero nominated for Best Actor and Actress, respectively) and Guerrero won “Best Actress” at the 2013 Red Nation Film Festival.

For more information about the DVD/iTunes release contact Yvonne Russo at, 626-807-9507.

For more information about the film visit
To view the trailer