“Once This Land Was Tipis As Far As You Can See…”

The Annual Meeting and Film Festival of the Association on American Indian Affairs commenced in November at the Lincoln Center in New York City. The event was successful and was attended by a wide, vibrant crowd that included Board Members, musicians, artists, filmmakers and the general public. Musical entertainment was provided by native artists Martha Redbone (Cherokee/Choctaw/African American/European) and Native cast members from Distant Thunder. Their musical sound consisted of traditional-Indigenous and modern melodies that accurately defined modern Native Peoples.

The Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Photo: AAIA.

Martha Redbone performing at the 2014 AAIA Annual Event Film Screening Showcase. Photo: AAIA.

The films selected for the screenings shared Native history and life in Native communities, and much of it was about the empowerment, strength, and self-sufficiency of Native Peoples.

“We Shall Remain” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs0iwY6YjSk a filmed produced by Style Horse Collective told a deep story of the current lingering effects in Native communities from western expansion into the America’s. The film began with an insightful story of a boy yearning for his parents after getting injured from a bike accident, only to realize his parents were not present due to alcoholism and drug abuse. Luckily, his sister comes to his rescue, showing the deep connections of Native families and some of the most difficult challenges we face. Despite a tough storyline, it is indeed a true one for many in Indian Country. The uncle of the boy and his sister, explains the story of why this happened and how it started, “Once this land was tipis as far as you can see,” meaning that Native people were free from the oppression that befell them, later in history. He then goes onto explaining the eras of foreign invasion, disease, boarding schools and today. He further explained the use of alcohol and drugs, as a stress response, to this now generational trauma. The final movie premise emphasized that setting positive goals for yourself, is a powerful combat to honor what your Ancestors did for your survival. The film then concludes with a powerful collage of  younger-future generations of Native youth holding signs that state their goals in life, such as “becoming leaders” and “graduating college,” to name a few. Besides these modern video shots of Native youth, the producers show similar individuals that appear to be from Edward Curtis photos, recalling the past to the present. This short film is amazing on all levels.

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2014 AAIA Annual Event Reception at the Lincoln Center. Photo: AAIA.

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Jack Trope, Executive Director of the Association on American Indian Affairs introduces distinguished guests at the private reception. Photo: AAIA.
Playground Of The Native Son directed by Michael Nash & Celia Xavier is a unique film about a professional Native American football team: http://www.hominy.lib.ok.us/heritage/hominyindians.html that made it big in the 1920s-30s. In this film, a group of men sit around a cozy campfire and tell the fascinating history of this football team that was formed by men who represented 22 different tribes. The team was called the Hominy Indians, from Hominy, Oklahoma. They played many different games around the country and even scored a State Championship in 1925. In a powerful show of respect for their athleticism, they were given the opportunity to play the New York Giants. Viewers were kept at the edge of their seats, as the characters from this historic Hominy Indians team demonstrated their determination, discipline, endurance and inner-strength, and gave the New York Giants a run for their money. This film is narrated by Adam Beach and is a marvelous piece of work. There was also a preview film on International Repatriation, which is currently under production. This film will showcase the work currently being conducted by filmmaker Angelo Baca in collaboration with the Working Group on International Repatriation and the International Repatriation Project. Martha Redbone, Shuan Taylor Corbett and Franky Vallie all wished him luck! The AAIA Annual Meeting and Film Festival was a great success, a good time for collaboration, important discussions and framing important goals for the future. Stay tuned for next year’s AAIA Annual Meeting and Film Festival at http://www.indian-affairs.org

Dominic Henry


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