The PBS documentary film Searching for Sequoyah, on which I was co-producer, co-writer and host, explores the life of the famed inventor of the Cherokee writing system. At the end of his life, he journeyed to Mexico to persuade a faction of Cherokees to rejoin the Nation following removal to Indian Territory. He never returned from this trip, and no one is certain what became of him. To explore his legacy, we conducted several interviews with his descendants and people who are working to preserve the Cherokee language, syllabary, and culture. The project involves interviewees not as objects of study but as guides and partners in the structural development of the film, in keeping with culturally sensitive research protocols such as outlined by Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Our experiences suggest ways filmmakers can cultivate more equilateral relationships and respect the authority of Native perspectives in telling stories of Indigenous triumph and perseverance, rather than conventional accounts of tragedy and defeat.