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POV | Up Heartbreak Hill

Posted by WMHT Web Editor on

Trailer Native teens torn between opportunities outside the reservation and cultural ties at home

Watch on WORLD.

The hopes and heartbreaks of senior year of high school comprise a defining part of teenage life and lore in America. Graduation marks the end of childhood, partings from family, friends and community and the start of a future that is both exciting and scary. But for Thomas Martinez, a statewide high school cross-country and track star, and Tamara Hardy, an academic as well as athletic star, growing up on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico has heightened these tensions in ways particular to Native American history and contemporary reservation life. 

What Thomas calls his love of "the mountains, the trees and the thought of being free" as he makes practice runs through the ochre, rock-faced landscape of the reservation speaks eloquently to the spiritual attachment these Native American youths have to their land and to the traditional Navajo way of life. Erica Scharf's Up Heartbreak Hill is a chronicle of one fateful year in the lives of two talented kids who must figure out not only how to become young adults, but what it means to be both Native and modern.

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