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December 30, 2011

Thank yous and closing credits for 2011, from NMAI's Film and Video Center

FVC 2011

With 2012 almost here, the staff of the museum's Film and Video Center (FVC) wants to share with you a look at what we did in 2011.

For their lively participation and creative gifts, we want to thank the filmmakers whose works we have screened this year, the program speakers who gave us new insights; the interpreters who made fluid our on-site and Internet discussions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and indigenous languages; and the four guest selectors for the 15th Native American Film + Video Festival: Ana Rosa Duarte (Yucatec Maya), Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in), Terry Jones (Seneca), and Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache).

The festival, March 31 through April 3, was this year’s main event. One hundred works were screened and discussed by the filmmakers and other cultural activists here to show their work and exchange ideas. More than 75 Native nations from 11 countries in the Americas were represented in this year’s events. For a good look at what took place, visit the festival's handsome web page. We tried to capture a sense of the experience in this video overview:


The department is also a national resource for information services about Native film and media, and work leapt ahead on the redesign of the Native Networks Website and on developing our database on indigenous media. We began to use social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to continue conversations about Native film and promote a diversity of programs. We responded to hundreds of inquiries and this year hosted more than 40 researchers using the media study collection. We are particularly pleased to have had as a resident fellow Maite Sanz de Galdeano of Cultura de Futuro in Madrid.

In response to the urgency expressed in many film submissions this year, FVC initiated Mother Earth in Crisis to showcase and discuss outstanding films about environmental issues. This on-going program was launched during the festival with a full-day event that included filmmakers and eloquent leaders Chief Oren Lyons (Onondaga and Seneca) and Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga). 

Mother Earth in Crisis was also the theme of two fall presentations featuring the Conversations with the Earth project for indigenous community media, and selections from the series Samaqan/Water Stories, with outstanding commentary by Chief Brian David of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.

This year’s Native Cinema Showcase (NCS) in Santa Fe moved to a new venue, and expanded to a week-long event, opening with On the Ice, the multiple award-winning first feature by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiat). In New York, the 2011 Animation Celebration! and other daily screenings were well-received, including special screenings for Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays.

Other highlights include a partnership with UCLA’s Motion Picture and Television Archives and Cinema Tropical to screen a retrospective of works by filmmaker Pedro Daniel López (Tzotzil Mayan) in New York and Los Angeles. Other screenings with discussions included Smokin’ Fish by Luke Griswold-Turgis and Cory Mann (Tlingit); and Grab by Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), which screened with a Laguna-style “grab," or gift toss, to the audience in both New York and Santa Fe. Here I Am, the first feature of Aboriginal filmmaker Beck Cole (Luritja/Warrumunga), had a special screening at the Heye Center before going to Toronto to win Best Feature in the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival.

Thanks and Appreciation

The FVC’s programs could not have flourished without the generous support and lively contributions of so many filmmakers, funders, colleagues, and friends. We are all especially appreciative of this year’s festival manager, Reaghan Tarbell (Mohawk), for accomplishing the immense job and making a fabulous festival.

FVC continued partnering and working with other organizations, including Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s Film and Culture Festival in Palm Springs; Cinema Tropical; the Experimental Film Festival of Madrid; the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival; the International Center for Transitional Justice; the Mexican Cultural Institute, Native American Public Telecommunications; New York University’s Native Forum and its Centers for Media, Culture & History and Media & Religion; SWAIA (the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts); the Tribeca Film Institute; and many other groups.

Comings and Goings

The Film and Video Center staff is going through a lot of changes, and there have been many goodbyes. Having worked as the FVC’s information specialist and programmer for more than 30 years, Millie Seubert has returned home to Oklahoma. Reaghan Tarbell has started work towards an M.A. in Cinema Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, returning home to live on the Kahnewake Reserve. Also returning home to Georgia is program assistant Rebekah Mejorado. Gaby Markey, FVC’s invaluable administrative support staff for the past 6 years, has now joined the staff of FEMA.

Newest additions to the staff include Fatima Mahdi, coordinator of database and media study activities; Lindsey Cordero, Latin American Program assistant; and Aaron Kutnick, media producer working on films about FVC’s programs for on-line posting. Wendy Allen continues to provide her talents to the new design of the Native Networks website and the Film and Video Center’s own web page on the NMAI site. Cindy Benitez returns in January, and Amalia and Elizabeth are still at work developing the program and FVC’s future possibilities. This year, perhaps the greatest welcome we give is to Ayelén Avirama, born in February. 

What an incredible year it has been!

All our best,

Elizabeth Weatherford, Amalia Cordova, Wendy Allen, Fatima Mahdi, Aaron Kutnick, Lindsey Cordero & Cindy Benitez 

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very expressive quality film festival I love her

Tks everything. greatings from vietnam

Nice Video

Tks everything. greatings from vietnam

December 16, 2011

Indian Country in the News: Dec. 9 - Dec. 16, 2011

This week's news highlights include a formal apology from the Mexican government for its failure to protect and serve the country's indigenous people from military injustice, even after the tragic murder of an indigenous rights activist there, a stunning photo essay on an Amazonian tribe whose existence is threatened by an impending dam project, and a look into the complicated and often controversial practice of de-enrollment among California tribes:

  • LATimes: Mexico admits responsibility in rape, torture of indigenous woman - "For the second time in a month, the Mexican government has formally taken responsibility for military abuses committed years ago, a step demanded by a series of international human rights court rulings. The Rosendo case is especially compelling because indigenous women are among the most vulnerable and disenfranchised groups in the country as a result of poverty and language and social exclusion. A member of the indigenous Me'phaa community in Mexico's southern Guerrero state, Rosendo, then 17, and another woman, Ines Fernandez, were raped by soldiers patrolling the region in 2002. Backed by human rights groups, including Mexico's Tlachinollan organization and the U.S.-based Robert F. Kennedy Center, both women pressed the case for years, turning to often-dismissive officials and government agencies until the case finally reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights."
  • The Atlantic: The Ashaninka, A Threatened Way of Life - "The Ashaninka are one of the largest indigenous groups in South America, their ancestral homelands ranging from Brazil to Peru. Since colonial times, their existence has been difficult -- they have been enslaved, had their lands taken away or destroyed, and were caught up in the bloody internal conflict in Peru during the late 20th century. Today, a large communal reserve set aside for the Ashaninka is under threat by the proposed Pakitzapango dam, which would displace some 10,000 Ashaninka. The dam is part of a large set of hydroelectric projects planned between the Brazilian and Peruvian governments - without any original consultation with the Ashaninka."
  • NYTimes: In California, Indian Tribes With Casino Money Cast Off Members - "For centuries, American Indian tribes have banished people as punishment for serious offenses. But only in recent years, experts say, have they begun routinely disenrolling Indians deemed inauthentic members of a group. And California, with dozens of tiny tribes that were decimated, scattered and then reconstituted, often out of ethnically mixed Indians, is the national hotbed of the trend. Clan rivalries and political squabbles are often triggers for disenrollment, but critics say one factor above all has driven the trend: casino gambling. The state has more than 60 Indian casinos that took in nearly $7 billion last year, the most of any state, according to the Indian Gaming Commission."
  • BBC: Indigenous rights campaigner found dead in Mexico - "A campaigner for indigenous rights in Mexico has been found dead a day after he was kidnapped. Jose Trinidad de la Cruz's body, which showed signs of torture and had four bullet wounds, was found on Wednesday in the western state of Michoacan. The Nahua indigenous leader, known as Don Trino, was kidnapped on his way to a meeting with other indigenous people. The region where he was abducted has seen 27 people murdered over a land dispute since 2009."

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December 09, 2011

The synergy between poet Janet Marie Rodgers and cellist Dawn Avery, Sunday, December 11, at the museum


Janet Marie Rogers performs her poem "Touch" with musicians Troy and Luther Hunt (Maori), Auckland Arts Festival, 2011.

One of the many exciting things the museum does is to bring thoughtful and creative people together—often to discuss contemporary and historical experiences, sometimes to create something wholly original and new. Sunday afternoon December 11, visitors to the museum in Washington can experience all those things happening at once in Mohawk Poetics, a presentation of poetry and video accompanied by music by writer and spoken-word performer Janet Marie Rogers and cellist and composer Dawn Avery.

Janet is in town to take part in the museum’s Artist Leadership Program, which invites Native artists to do research in the NMAI collections and at other museums and archives around Washington, then continue exploring their topics through community workshops and presentations. A member of a Mohawk/Tuscarora family with roots in the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Janet has chosen to research the life and ideas of the Mohawk poet E. Pauline Johnson (1861–1913). Janet will develop her community project back home in Vancouver through the Aboriginal Artists Collective. “It Comes and Goes”—a new composition she and Dawn Avery will be performing this Sunday in Mohawk Poetics—features lyrics that reflect what Janet has learned about Pauline Johnson’s struggles with her mortality and her turning to the Iroquois Mask Society for help in making the passage to the spirit world.

Asked how their collaboration took shape, Janet said that it was Dawn who first raised the idea. When we followed up with Dawn, she graciously sent this account:

I first met Janet Marie Rogers when she was performing at the National Museum of the American Indian around 2006. As a frequent visitor, audience member, and performer at NMAI, I am always interested in Native Arts both old and new, and I was especially interested in hearing the work of a Haudenosaunee artist, which is my heritage as well. As I stood by the waterfalls outside of the museum, listening to Janet Marie recite her poetry, I was struck by how inherently musical it was, and I was immediately inspired to write music, sing along, grab a cello, compose to her words. After her performance, I introduced myself and talked to her about specific pieces she presented and how I'd love to work with her at some point.

About a year later, we began working together and have written several songs together which are on the award-winning Our Fire recording—music that was performed and re-released at NMAI this past September. We have also collaborated on “Classical Native” works such as Fringe, which was written as part of an Expressive Collaboration Grant awarded by the Smithsonian and NMAI and premiered at the museum in 2008; it has since been performed in Newfoundland and Maryland as well. 

Janet’s work is constantly developing, and her innovation, creativity, and passion remain expansive, which truly inspires me and is extremely important to me both as an artist and as a Native woman. I continue to follow Janet's career and have been inspired by her work to write new lyrics in the Mohawk language, and to continue creating new works of art with her!  


Dawn Avery, Larry Mitchell, Steven Alvarez performing "Our Fire," lyrics by Janet Marie Rogers. Courtesy of Native American Past and Present, KPBS-TV.

Sunday afternoon from 12:30 to 1 PM EDT in the museum's Potomac Atrium, Dawn will present a cello prelude; her performance with Janet begins at 1:30 on the museum's 4th floor. If you can be in Washington this weekend, the chance to meet these two artists and hear their work is worth the journey

If you’re around town Wednesday afternoon, December 14, please join us as Janet’s colleagues in the Artist Leadership Program present their projects. Angela Babby (Oglala Lakota), who works with enameled glass mosaics, will discuss her research in the Oglala, Sicangu, and Sans Arc Lakota Sioux collections and describe the challenges of coordinating a youth public art project at Red Cloud High School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Leah White Horse–Mata (yak tityu tityu yak tilhini Cultural Preservation Kinship), from the Northern Chumash area of California, will talk about her research on the regalia and jewelry worn by men and women of her cultural background.

If you can't make it to Washington in the next few days, you'll find more music and poetry on Dawn's and Janet's websites. 

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I like love Janet Marie Rogers performance of "Touch". I've never seen the video before.


December 02, 2011

Indian Country in the News: Nov. 25 - Dec. 2, 2011

This week's news highlights include Obama's meeting with tribal leaders at the White House, a protest against a silver mine on sacred indigenous ground in Mexico, why a young chief in the Amazon was named by Fast Company as one of the 100 most creative people in business this year and a long-awaited reservation for the Fort Sill Apaches:

  • HuffPo: Indigenous Leaders Will Hand Obama Emergency Mother Earth Accord, Say Face To Face No Keystone XL - "This Friday, tribal leaders from across the continent will meet for their third summit with the president in Washington, and one of the prime items on the agenda will be the fight against the Keystone Pipeline. They'll talk about the way both the pipeline and the process of approving it have violated treaties, and they'll present the president with a copy of the Mother Earth Accord adopted in a special meeting at the Rosebud reservation a few weeks ago. It's a strong document, full of details about the impacts of tar sands mining and pipeline leaks and carbon emissions -- but it also speaks with the real power of the people who've lived longest and best on this continent. Indeed, it begins by affirming that "the earth is our true mother, our grandmother who gives birth to us and maintains all life."
  • AP: Famous writers, artists join petition to stop Mexico silver mine on indigenous sacred ground - "More than 150 internationally known writers and artists are urging Mexican President Felipe Calderon to cancel mining concessions in an area of northern Mexico considered sacred ground by the Huichol Indians. The list of petition signers released Thursday comprises a who’s who of arts and letters from 30 countries, including former U.S. poet laureate Robert Hass, who said he was “very happy to participate.The petition urges Mexico to rescind mining concessions granted to Canada-based First Majestic Silver Corp. for nearly 16,000 acres (6,300 hectares) in a desert area known as Wirikuta in San Luis Potosi state. The area is home to the Cerro Quemado, a mountain where the Huichol believe the sun was born."

  • Forbes: Amazonian Tribe Has Earned its Carbon Crop - "The next time someone tells you that carbon money is a giveaway from rich countries to poor countries, ask them to google Almir Surui – or to google both him and “google” at the same time. He’s the young chief of the Surui people, a tribe of Amazon Indians who have decided to forego the certain income of farming and preserve their rainforest in the hopes of earning credit for the carbon their forest captures in trees. His efforts earned him a spot on this year’s Fast Company list of the 100 most creative people in business – and death threats from people who want illegal logging to continue in the Amazon."

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Great site - thank you for sharing this info! By the way, Just a quick heads up; I was having trouble viewing this forum in mozilla firefox but the latest update automatically solved the problem. Maybe this will help some people.

Obama's summit meeting with tribal leaders at the White House is a good approach to foster unity with the masses.

We should learn from indigenous peoples with respect for nature and environmental protection in order to live better.

It is very important to take care of nature, the leaders of the countries must unite to move forward without destroying the planet.

indigenous peoples for me are the remaining culture in that place. Let's help preserve the culture of those people.

Cebu Travel