February 11, 2011

Telling It the Right Way: Chiricahua Apache Prisoners of War

This month, I’m going to talk a little bit about a six-minute video I produced in 2007 on the Chiricahua Apache for NMAI’s Our Peoples gallery. One of the key challenges the museum has is to distill complicated histories and stories into bite-sized pieces. Telling this particular story in a manner acceptable to the tribe represented a substantial test.  

  Chiricahua Apache main title
 

The Chiricahua Apache, the last tribe to resist U.S. government control of the American Southwest, were held as prisoners of war at a number of locations for more than twenty-five years. The story of their incarceration was of central importance to the tribe and had to be included prominently in the small gallery exhibit. This history could have been explored in an hour-long media piece or even a series of videos, but we had space for only a wall-mounted monitor with no seating. This usually indicates that I’ll need to boil down the essential facts to a couple of minutes. The more I learned about this dramatic story the more it seemed almost impossible to accomplish well.

When curator Emil Her Many Horses and I met with the community, I expressed my anxiety about simplifying the story into a very short video. Lynette Kanseah, one of the Chiricahua elders, told me that it would be fine as long as I did it in the right way. That was followed by a long and meaningful look!

Believe me, those words and the way Lynette looked at me stayed with me as the project took shape.

 
Lynett green screen Lynette with back

The video was put together around a series of interviews, one in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the rest on the Mescalero reservation in south-central New Mexico. I decided that we would shoot the interviews on green screen so that I could layer archival images from the NMAI collection behind the speakers as they told the story. The images and the words of the people together were very powerful, but I wanted to heighten the visitor’s experience of this tragic history by adding music. I turned to Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache, whose music has a sense of longing and heartbreak that was a perfect fit for the project. This was an unusual move for the museum at the time, as we generally had not used music in our storytelling. Laura, who performs solo as the Dust Dive Flash, allowed us to use music from her album Tens of Thousands. We owe her a debt of gratitude for her contribution to this video.

When the Chiricahua community came to Washington for the opening of the exhibition, they watched the video many times. I could see by their faces that emotional story was being told in a respectful way. Lynette saw me and slowly nodded.

Watching the video now, I see mostly the technical flaws. Still, I am happy that this difficult but important story is being told at our museum. I think I must have found the right way.

 

This video highlights some of the amazing photographic resources of the National Museum of the American Indian. Our long-time photo archivist, Lou Stancari recently passed away. I will always be reminded of his great contribution to this museum whenever I see the NMAI’s archival photo collection. I will miss you Lou, but your memory lives on.

 

Comments (16)

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thanks, wery good informaitons.

"Well written"

www.nationaldocumentaries.com

Thank you, nice documentary
I may include this documentary to my collection on my site. Which I'm trying to gather good documentaries.

Thank you again

A story that has to be told! To Emil Her Many Horses a big Thank You!
"...held as prisoners of war at a number of locations for more than twenty-five years." just for OUR right to be human! another way to put, "The Telling of Genocide in INDIANLAND-usa"
mescalero

Thank you National Museum of the American Indian, Lynette Kanseah, one of the Chiricahua elders, Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache for your gift of music: Tens of Thousands. Photo Archivist, Lou Stancari, just to name a few. Things not taught in public school 'history books.' Thank You, for real His-story. I am honored to sit at your fire.
mescalero

It is a really good feeling that these people were able to tell their tale the way they saw it.

It will go a long way to boost the confidence of their culture.

Often, the importance of self confidence and self esteem are overlooked. I cannot recall how many times I’ve spoken with someone who seemed to accept their own low self confidence or low self esteem. It is as if many people believe that it is physical or mental defect that cannot be helped. They fail to realize that they are in control to change it and improve their lives whenever they are ready to make the effort.

Sometimes they just need a little support. If you know someone who has low confidence, do your part. Help them realize their greatness and when their fears get in the way, give them a little extra push. The world wants to accept them.

Nice post Amazing, I found your site on Bing looking around for something completely unrelated and I really enjoyed your site. I will stop by again to read some more posts.

I've never heard the story of the chiricahua apache before, and was quite shocked about the 25 year imprisonment, awful.

As far as video production goes, I think it was a great use of green screen and enabled to see quite a lot of nice relevant images rather than just a studio!

Very interesting. thank you very much

I don't think the technical flaws of the video matter, the Chiricahua stories are powerful enough in themselves.

Amy

Thank you National Museum of the American Indian, Lynette Kanseah, one of the Chiricahua elders, Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache for your gift of music: Tens of Thousands. Photo Archivist, Lou Stancari, just to name a few. Things not taught in public school 'history books.' Thank You, for real His-story. I am honored to sit at your fire.

The story of the chiricahua apache was quite shocked about the 25 year imprisonment, awful.

I think the video was a great use of green screen and enabled to see quite a lot of nice relevant images rather than just a studio!

It's quite hard to find a good website. And I am very satisfied to have come here. The publications are doing great and full of good insights. I would be glad to keep on coming back here to check for a new update.

Nice blog! More people should read it. If you want, you can register your blog. It is free and and it automatically updates when you do an update, so visitors of our site can see when you updated your blog. The big advantage is that it will attract much more visitors to your blog.

The green screen approach worked really well. One of the first documentaries I ever made was an oral history of people in my hometown Gettysburg.

My dad's side of the family is from Pennsylvania, but my mother's side is from China, and I've always wanted to do one there. Problem is, I don't speak Cantonese well enough to conduct an interview. One day I'll partner up with someone who can translate.

However, this person would have to be someone I could trust as an interviewer. I don't think it would be enough to have a translator, who might miss the point of what I was getting at.

I did enjoy watching the video!

January 19, 2011

Double Jeopardy!

NMAI on Jeopardy 4

This December, the National Museum of the American Indian was a category on Jeopardy!, the quiz show.  It was amazing to watch the contestants strategically avoid the NMAI category.

NMAI on Jeopardy 2
I guess the other subjects—“Places in the Bible”, “Movie Names”, “The Rat Pack”, “Play Penners,”and “Five-Letter Words”—were more familiar. 

NMAI on Jeopardy
The players avoided our category until every other clue was gone, then ran out of time before they could get to the $2000 NMAI question. 

NMAI on Jeopardy 3
Leonda Levchuk and Molly Stephey from the NMAI Public Affairs Office worked with the producers of Jeopardy! to create videotaped clues from the museum on the National Mall. They also signed paperwork swearing that they wouldn’t give away the answers—er, questions—in advance. After the show aired, Leonda and Molly asked the producers to send us a copy of the tape so that we could share it with you. I’ve edited it to get right to the NMAI part.  

Watch the video below.

 

Comments (148)

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I'm loving this. Millions watch jeopardy. It's great the contestants had the right answers. Their reluctance to select the category speaks volumes on their and this nations ignorance of native history, culture and tradition. Kudos to you all for the great presentations for the clues.
Moving into the future with NMAI, many visitors will not have an opportunity to improve on their knowledge now that the Resource Center has been dismantled.
That being said, the internet may be the next best tool to address educating the public about native people's history; past and present.
As a Charter member since '94 and a former NMAI staff member, I'm hopeful it will keep balance in addressing Education and Art while meeting its obligations that keep the doors open.

It seems like the powers that be want to phase you out of its history. I'm not an American Indian (to my knowledge)... Speaking as a African American I can say that has happened to our people as well. My mother is middle school teacher, she will not let her kids do any papers on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, or Rosa Parks. Not because these individuals did not accomplish great things... She will not let her kids study them because that's all they have been; and for the rest of there middle/high school year be taught. The story of my people is not being taught either. That is why I can relate to this post. I do pride one educational organization for their multicultural views... CARR http://ctreadingresearch.org/

This quiz show is fun! The NMAI category is helpful for contestants and audience to learn more interesting facts. I hope there will be more quiz shows like this.

Nathan

Some categorys are much more excepted than others. And in a game like this you see that in full swing.

Hi, very useful and interesting post.
http://www.publicanunt.ro

I’ve been reading a few article posted here and really enjoy your writing. I’m just starting up my own blog website and only hope that I can write as well and give the reader so much insight.

_________________________
Currently working as google apps for business developer @ http://www.cloudadapt.com.au.

Absolutely agree. The majority seems to be totally ignorant of NMAI and they really should be ashamed. Very well written and presented article, BTW.

Its interesting post especially watching video was fun. Keep doing Quiz shows like this.

Paying attention in history lessons is obviously more valuable than many people think!

Kind regards,


John

This is a really informative and valauable information! thanks for sharing.

I think it makes a very clear point about people's lack of information of history in some specific circumstances. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing us this very informative and well written blog post. I love every bit of it especially the points that you expressed. And I would love to come back in a regular basis so post more of the subject!!!

Jeopardy is one of my best game show. I have watched it.

On a quiz show its natural that contestants would want topics which are familiar to them. Their aim is winning - not education. Perhaps you could work out an awareness campaign with the show producers and find a way to make people more aware about natives.

Sammy

hi
Great article can be shared by you with all, its really useful to all. Just update your site with this kind of useful postings.

Thanks
martin

Amazing quiz show. I really enjoyed watching it. Great post.

Their reluctance to select the category speaks volumes on their and this nations ignorance of native history, culture and tradition. Kudos to you all for the great presentations for the clues.

Love this! Great post, can't wait to see more!

Very interesting topics here in your site mate. Can't wait to read more of your blogs. Just keep it coming. :)


I saw that episode of Jeopardy! I have to admit that I was wondering if I could answer those questions myself.

I stumbled across this blog post quite by accident and thought it was so funny I had to comment...

Plucky

Last year I had an aunt sign up for Jeopardy and make it on the show but didn't make it all the way. She told me that history is a big subject to learn on this show.


Go old Jeopardy! Always good entertainment.

Kristelle Bridge

I love this show. It's concern is history,culture etc, i like those subject as they help us to know about myself very well. I always love to know about my root. I love to see more of this.
Regards,
ETS TExES study guide

I am feeling so happy seeing this post. True to say, I am searching for such a post for many days.

Very Nice And Effective article.
amir khan

I like this type of show because you always can learn some interesting new knowledge and at the same time revive the knowledge you already know.

regards,
Jenny

great publishing On a quiz show its natural that contestants would want topics which are familiar to them. Their aim is winning - not education.

I love history and culture subjects. So this is my favorite program.
Regards

Great post about national museum...

History questions are only easy if you know the answer :) In fact that could be said of all quizzes

Fantastic topic! I totally agree with your concept. Great work man! Keep it up in the future.

One must be very smart to guess all the questions you raised the program. I've really been impressed.

its amazing, i loved this show. great post.

This was an interesting show. It is appalling how little the public really knows about Native American history.

I agree with the post, pertenenzo to class majority, but I think it's important to respect multiculturalism in a globalized world like ours. Roby of finanziamenti and prestiti INPDAP

My daughter-in-law was on Jeopardy a couple of years ago. She was the winner the first day, then was beaten the second day. She won over 11 grand, so it wasn't to bad.

I love this show! Great post. Looking forward to more like this!
Mike

Very good article indeed. Keep the good work going on.

I used to watch this show everyday. It was very entertaining. Sadly, I don't have local channels anymore. I think these people on the show are very smart. Cindy

I am very interested in your article, I think your articles are so interesting that I need more information,

Love this ! keep them coming ....

I love it! This was very entertaining, I love jeopardy! Thanks for posting this.

Really nice stuff..i love to see your article..keep posting

Now thanks to the internet everything is possible and we all have the same opportunities to learn.

Love this post..
keep adding up..And Thanks for sharing.

I think your articles are so interesting that I need more information.

I always liked that look in the 80's. Cool to see that something similar to the original has come around again.

This was very entertaining, I love jeopardy!

i like ur article..very nice interesting...
thnks for the post

Cool to see that something similar to the original has come around again.

January 10, 2011

Native Media

Screen shot 2011-01-10 at 9.51.37 AM

Outside of the context of the National Museum of the American Indian, the word native can mean something else entirely, and it’s common to hear techies refer to “native content” without mentioning a tribal affiliation. I don't think of native 1080p as an indigenous tribe, but maybe some geeks do.

Welcome to the Media Initiatives blog. My colleagues and I would like to take the opportunity to highlight aspects of productions that we’re working on currently, stuff that never made it into the final edit, and older work that has stories behind it. We hope these posts and your comments will become a way to stay in touch and see what you and we are up to.

In this first post I thought I'd tell you a little a bit about working on a video about HOCK E AYE VI Edgar Heap of Birds. This was one in a series of incredible opportunities afforded me to get to work with a supremely interesting artist in a magical setting—in this case, Venice, Italy. With this opportunity came a major drawback, and that was that there was no budget for a crew. Many of the on-site interviews came from me holding the camera, with headphones on, asking questions—less than ideal. But among the great things about making this video was that I was able to write and record some music and pretty much have free reign in how it was put together and shot. Edgar was always patient and willing, and Venice provided plenty of interesting visuals. It was also my first time working in a totally tapeless format (that is a totally tapeless native format). That meant that I could shoot in HD, but also that I would spend hours in my hotel room later sweating through error messages and lost footage. (Whatever weight I lost stressing out and carrying equipment around I regained eating the gorgonzola gnocci and canolis.)

Edgar created a work for the 2007 Venice Biennale entitled Most Serene Republics, and I produced a video about that installation. This video, however, is about the work he did on the island of Murano, where he made beautiful art in glass. If you watch closely, you'll glimpse me (shooting from a tripod at a distance) reflected in the glass. It was very hot in there! I’ll also note that NMAI media archivist Michael Pahn (on acoustic bass) and I (on acoustic guitar) performed the music on this video, “Working In Glass.”

Well, here’s the video. I hope you enjoy it, and I'll post again next month!

 

Comments (4)

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I agree with the amazing work created by Edgar for the 2007 Venice Biennale...The "Most Serene Republics", great name too. I am interested in seeing the video produced on that. Great job!

I am going to Venice Italy this next summer too, so can't wait. It is a magical place.

SHEILA

As a Native American myself, this is awesome. The work and dedication of Edgar is amazing and I'm very happy for him!

Lee - The GMAT Coach

ps- the video was well put together!

This is a really well shot video considering it was a one-man team filming it!

I think not getting a reflection was always going to be difficult whilst shooting such reflective material, although maybe next time try from a bit of an angle instead of face on?

How did you find filming under such high temperature, was it more pressure??

sydney video production

Thank u so much ..