A film by Brit Hensel with Keli Gonzales exploring expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. According to the Sundance Institute, Hensel is the first woman who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation to direct an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (pronounced oo-de-yo-NUH) is one of seven films from season one of Reciprocity Project. All seven films recently premiered at the 2022 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana (with the other six films having world premieres in addition to the second festival play for ᎤᏕᏲᏅ following Sundance).


ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught) explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. The film circles the intersection of tradition, language, land, and a commitment to maintaining balance.


“It is important to us that ᎤᏕᏲᏅ includes the perspectives of western and eastern Giduwa (Cherokee) people. Although our communities are separated by distance, our collaboration on this film offers a balanced perspective of what reciprocity means to our people and how it’s actualized in our lives.”
– Brit Hensel, director, 4th World Media Lab Fellow, 2022 Tulsa Artist Fellow, and works on the series Reservation Dogs on FX

ᎤᏕᏲᏅ was created in collaboration with independent artists from both Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, filmed in North Carolina and Oklahoma. The film was produced by Taylor Hensel (Cherokee, who is also Brit’s sister), Adam Mazo, Kavita Pillay, and Tracy Rector as part of Reciprocity Project, which seeks to embrace the value of reciprocity through Indigenous perspectives via storytelling, film, podcasts, and other creative mediums. The ultimate goal of Reciprocity Project is to create a paradigm shift that reframes our relationships to the Earth, other living beings, and one another. Learn more about ᎤᏕᏲᏅ and the other Reciprocity Project films at reciprocity.org



Screening with the documentary feature Historjà – Stitches for Sápmi

Sunday, May 1 at 8:00 PM
Varsity 8

Friday, May 6 at 8:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Streaming on Hot Docs at Home starting Monday, May 2, 2022 at 9:00 AM and running for 5 days. All film streams are geo-blocked to Canada. 

More info: https://hotdocs.ca/whats-on/hot-docs-festival/films/2022/what-theyve-been-taught