QUAPAW, Okla. — A new documentary, “The Pride of the Ogahpah,” follows the evolution of the Quapaw Nation’s gaming operations and how its success with Downstream Casino Resort has led to further expansion and new undertakings.
"O-gah-pah" means “the downstream people” and is how the Quapaw people say “Quapaw” in their native language.
The documentary was directed by Coltyn Seifert, of Galena, Kansas, an aspiring filmmaker and former employee of Downstream Casino. He had worked at the casino as a server at Red Oak Steakhouse, investing part of his pay in camera equipment and computers. Seifert then created his own production company, Infinite Productions, in 2010 after working at Downstream on and off for six years.
“It wasn’t until 2018 when I talked Downstream into doing a documentary,” Seifert said. “A lot of the times, tribal officials would come into dine or have a meeting at Red Oak. Chairman John Berrey was there one night, and I had the idea for a documentary for a long time. But I just didn’t have the courage to ask, until then.”
As it turned out, Berrey was on board with the idea for a documentary highlighting the tribe, Seifert said. The filmmaker then met with tribal officials for months to discuss plans, ideas and arrange interviews. Seifert began shooting the documentary in mid-May 2018 and wrapped up production at the beginning of this year.
The documentary follows the Quapaw Nation’s gaming successes, as well as its continued expansion into areas such as agriculture, horticulture and environmental cleanup. The tribe has five greenhouses, several beehives, its own bison herd, a meat-processing plant, a coffee roasting operation and a craft brewing company.
With a farm-to-table approach, the Quapaw Nation members raise cattle and bison, and produce, and incorporate the meat and vegetables into operations such as the casinos. Seifert believed it was important to share the tribe’s vision of sustainability and growth with the world in the form of a documentary.
“As a server, one of my favorite things to do was to tell people, ‘The salad you’re eating is coming from the greenhouses and this kind of steak is from the Quapaw Nation where it’s aged for about a month,’” Seifert said. “I had a little bit of knowledge of the tribe and what they were into. Plus, I grew up in Quapaw and would go to the powwows. I’m not a member of the tribe, but I’ve always been very interested in the tribe.”
Dawn Wormington, who was featured in the documentary, works as the horticulture supervisor at the tribe’s greenhouses and said they’re currently expanding to add a sixth greenhouse, as well as additional beehives for honey production. She mentioned how the documentary really captures the essence of the tribe and its ability to grow, despite the circumstances.
“I hope the viewers really understand where the tribe really came from,” Wormington said. “They started with absolutely nothing, and look what they have now.”
Berrey states in the film that it’s good to challenge your limitations and think outside the box because it gives you the opportunity to grow, which is exactly what the tribe did. Downstream officially opened on July 5, 2008.
The tribe began raising its own bison in 2010 and developed its greenhouse operation in 2013. The Quapaw Nation took it a step further when it launched its own coffee roasting operation, which produces 500 to 700 pounds of coffee per week.
Lucus Setterfield, food and beverage director at Downstream, has been with the tribe for 11 years.
“Anybody who’s a little aware of what we do here understands that every year or year and a half, we’re involved in a new project,” Setterfield said. “All of these new endeavors take a tremendous amount of effort and planning. The agricultural experience and the push to be able to tell people as much as possible about the products that they’re eating or what they’re enjoying has been a major part of that evolution.”
The Quapaw Nation is now focusing on its third casino, which will open in 2020 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
“The overall theme is that Downstream Casino is much more than gaming,” Seifert said. “It’s more broad than that. It’s due to the leadership vision, everyone working together as a team. A lot of what they do like the agricultural programs and the cleanup of the Superfund site at Tar Creek, they’re setting the bar.”
How to watch
The 90-minute documentary is available for free on Amazon Prime Video.