December 4, 2020

Chief Wana Dubie’s War

Chief Wana Dubie during filming of “Wana Dubie’s War” Webster student Jerod Welker’s documentary on Wana Dubie’s campaign for Missouri Governor. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEROD WELKER

The tattoo of a burning marijuana leaf adorns the forehead of marijuana advocate Chief Wana Dubie.

“They’re going to end up destroying themselves, the country and the world unless God steps in,” Chief Wana Dubie said.

“Wana Dubie’s War” is a short documentary based on the life of Joseph Bickle, now known as Chief Wana Dubie, and his fight to legalize marijuana. Webster student Jerod Welker and Andrew Sheeley created the film. Welker and Sheeley entered into the Big Sky, St. Louis International and the Big Easy International Film Festivals.

The film, originally titled “Dubie vs. Blunt,” was filmed during the 2008 campaign for Missouri Governor. Welker partnered with Sheeley for Welker’s senior project in 2008. Sheeley heard that Wana Dubie was in the running for the position and quickly gathered information.

“Wana Dubie’s War” shows an American man who is willing to supersede the government in order for his message to be heard. Throughout the documentary, Wana Dubie explains how he seceded his property from the United States, grows his own field of marijuana in his back yard and refuses conformity from, “the man”.

“He’s going to protest against all the things he believes are wrong until he’s dead,” Welker said. “And he’s going to stand up for all the things he believes are right, until he’s dead.”

After Ronald Reagan declared the war on drugs in 1969, Wana Dubie said he did not understand why America had declared war against “God’s creation,” a naturally growing plant. There was no representation for citizens like him that needed the marijuana plant for medical purposes, so Wana Dubie decided to represent these people himself.

Wana Dubie served five years in prison for trying to legalize marijuana. He said he planted the hemp plant in his yard in Salem, Missouri to make a statement.  Wana Dubie said marijuana can be used over 25,000 ways in society.

“Anything you can make out of oil, you can make out of hemp except pollution,” Wana Dubie said. “Everything that is wrong in America and the world today is because they (the American government) outlawed the hemp plant.”

After filming Wana Dubie, Sheeley and Welker turned 15 minutes of footage into a 35 minute documentary.

“He would always get nervous on camera, so we would always just talk to him for the 30 minutes before we started filming,” Sheeley said. “When we actually clicked the camera on, we wouldn’t tell him…we wanted him to be as natural as possible.”

Sheeley and Welker funded the film after gathering paychecks and Christmas money. Welker rented film equipment and lighting from Webster ’s Media Center.

In the 2011 Big Sky Film Festival, many participants and spectators received the chance to view the film as a work in progress. The audience gave Sheeley and Welker feedback during a question and answer session. After making the necessary edits, based on audience feedback, they entered the project into the St. Louis International Film Festival.

“It was really fun for them,” said Mike Steinberg,  director of Webster University’s Film Series and Big Sky Film Festival. “They received helpful feedback, took notes and made revisions. It was a positive experience for them.”

Sheeley and Welker will enter the film into the Big Easy International Film Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. The festival will show the film in the first weekend in March 2012. Welker has also entered the film into two other festivals: the Kansas City Filmmakers’ Film Festival and the Documentary Film Festival in Columbia, Mo.

Sheeley and Welker agreed that working with Chief Wana Dubie was an adventure. At nights Wana Dubie stayed with them at the Webster Village Apartments, and during the day, they took him around Jefferson City. Chief Wana Dubie kept them guessing, “What’s next?”

“The experience of working with Chief Wana Dubie was an adventure,” Welker said. “Some of my friends who knew about the project thought I was crazy for trying to do this project.”

“I dare to be free, I dare to be me,” Wana Dubie said. “I don’t wear a mask. I’m an open book and I’m hated for that.”

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