Apache youth reclaim their story through skateboarding

Apache Skateboards founder Douglas Miles supports San Carlos Apache youth as they redefine their culture and find ways to express themselves.

Filmmakers Audrey Buchanan, Carlos Reyes, and Kaylee Cole explore how skateboarding helps members of the San Carlos Apache tribe reclaim their stories and culture.

Apache youth reclaim their story through skateboarding

Apache Skateboards founder Douglas Miles supports San Carlos Apache youth as they redefine their culture and find ways to express themselves.

Filmmakers Audrey Buchanan, Carlos Reyes, and Kaylee Cole explore how skateboarding helps members of the San Carlos Apache tribe reclaim their stories and culture.

Artist and Apache Skateboards founder Douglas Miles started a skateboard brand alongside youth leaders on the San Carlos Apache reservation, a vehicle to share advice on cultivating resilience, creativity, and joy in an uncertain, polarized world.

“The Mystery of Now” is a “visual meditation about life on the Apache nation via lived experience of Apache Skateboards,” Miles says. “It’s a soulfully joyous glimpse into hard-edged lives of Native kids becoming artists, musicians, skaters, creatives, and leading in their community using art, music, and skateboarding as a means of expression and power."

Miles is one of many artists, cultural alchemists, and unapologetic joy creators who are stepping forward across cultures and ideologies to help make sense of what’s happening around us and how it affects our mental health, our families, and our communities.

"I felt if I could create art that kids could use, it would change the way we not only looked at art but would change the way we looked at our community and ourselves,” Miles says. “This film captures the joyous, yet open-eyed worldview that living on the res develops in young people."

For many communities experiencing, perhaps for the first time, what it feels like to be scared, angry, even incensed about the current environment, Miles suggests three core tenets he has used to guide young Apache leaders for more than 30 years. Recognize the power of their ancestors’ past; embody the fact as young culture creators, they are the keys to their people’s future; and honor the great mystery that guides our lives present moment to present moment.

Miles also points to the importance of unplugging, connecting with family, bringing meals to neighbors, doing acts of service in your community and not posting it on social media. Doing it, because it’s part of the health of our connective human fabric.

Throughout the film, he points to the beautiful permanence of nature in our impermanent world of headlines and soundbites.

"When you realize the land is forever, you realize you're forever, we are forever,” he says.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the world and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. To submit a film for consideration, please email sfs@natgeo.com. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.