Many of us grow up fascinated with Hollywood. Some of us even dream of being in the movie business. For even fewer, that dream becomes a reality. Such is the case for Shinnecock tribal citizen Christina Douglas, who recently won two Emmy Awards as executive producer for Netflix’s Tiny Creatures.
Tiny Creatures, which stars Mike Colter as its narrator, is a dramatic nature series that shows animals embark on amazing adventures across the United States. Each of the eight episodes of this docuseries takes place in a different state, telling the story of little animals faced with the task of outsmarting their predators. Think Indiana Jones-like skunks, kangaroo rats and owls.
While there is definitely a certain amount of fiction written into the storyline, the series exemplifies the true adaptation of nature to survive in tough situations. That adaptation and resiliency is reflective of the more than 600 tribal nations here in the United States and certainly that of the Shinnecock Nation.
Not that long ago, there were 13 different tribal communities on Long Island. While the fate of many fell into the hands of colonization, the Shinnecock have survived and, despite hardships, continue to thrive. Douglas is an example of that.
Born and raised on the Shinnecock Reservation, Douglas saw firsthand some of the trials and tribulations her community members faced. Like many native communities, Shinnecock are often marginalized, under-resourced and forgotten. While the Shinnecock have flourished on their homeland for more than 20,000 years, they have seen 90% of their land and waterways reduced to the 800 acres they now own today. The community is continuously working to preserve their right to fish, hunt and build economic development projects to sustain the wellbeing of the nation. This work is often met with local, state and sometimes federal opposition which make it difficult to thrive.
Douglas took the resiliency of the ones that came before her and was accepted to Dartmouth College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in film and television studies, as well as psychological and brain sciences. After Dartmouth, she cut her teeth as an associate producer and film editor for PBS’ In the Mix.
Douglas left PBS to begin an eight-year career at the Discovery Channel, where she served various roles from editor to developer, all the while honing her craft. In 2016, she left to build her own firm, Momentum Content. From its inception, Momentum has worked to produce binge-worthy content. Their first series, Primal Instinct, aired in 2018 on ID (Investigation Discovery), delivering over one million viewers each week. Momentum found success in future projects including Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, Battle of the ’80s Supercars with David Hasselhoff, and now Tiny Creatures. Momentum’s success has led them to sell content to Netflix, History Channel and the Travel Channel.
While Douglas has been quite humble about her two Emmy wins, the impact her success has on the Shinnecock community is massive. While young Native boys and girls don’t often see themselves reflected in a positive light in the media and in business, Douglas is certainly an inspiration for the nation’s young ones. How powerful it is to see someone who looks like you and comes from the very place where you came from, not only become an industry leader, but twice win one of the highest awards in television. Representation matters, and knowing that anything is possible is a catalyst for greatness.
Tiny Creatures is a great reminder that no matter the size of the fighter, willpower and wit prove to be the keys to survival and success. Having an Indiana Jones-style quest for adventure makes the journey even more exciting — just ask our friend the kangaroo rat.
Christian Weaver, Wampum Group president, has been in the development and strategic planning industry for nearly 20 years. Christian is passionate about lifting communities and has dedicated his career to making a positive impact in the lives of others.