SUN KISSED: A Documentary Explores a Fatal Skin Disorder Killing Navajo Young

Native American author —he prefers to be called an American Indian— Sherman Alexie was on the Leonard Lopate Show the other day talking about his new book, Blasphemy, and he said he thinks the U.S. still practices colonialism in respect to American Indians. “When you lose centuries of tradition,” Alexie said, “you’re in incredible existential pain.” Yet another source of pain for one tribe, the Navajo, and its connection to the genocide of the American Indians is powerfully revealed in the documentary Sun Kissed, airing this Thursday (Oct. 18) on POV at 10pm.

“Sun Kissed” tells the story of Dorey and Yolanda Nez, a Navajo couple living on a reservation in New Mexico. Both of their children were born with Xeroderma Pigmentosum —or XP— a genetic disorder that makes exposure to sunlight fatal. The disease is so rare it only occurs one in a million in the general population. Their son passed away at age 11 and when the film begins Dorey is the full-time caretaker of his 16-year-old daughter Leanndra, who is paralyzed by the neurological degeneration that can also be caused by XP. Read more