Screening in Göttingen on Friday

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This time our film will be screened at the well-known Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival in a very special location, the old Paulinerkirche of the University’s Library.
I am really excited to return to Göttingen, a place I came to enjoy the last 6 years because of its sunny atmosphere. It is a place with great people who care about social and global issues around the world.
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A whole spectra of the current life of indigenous societies and peoples around the world will be presented, giving a platform to voices seldom heard.
INTO AMERICA will be screened in the Cultural Heritage Session together with two other exciting films – Returning Souls and Touching Objects - that also deal with topics such as cultural identity, well-being and home, on Friday, May 30th at 10.50am.
Looking forward

http://www.gieff.de/current-programme.html

New Fight brought to Utah Lands Issues using “racist” methods?

San Juan County showdown slated for Saturday at Recapture Canyon

(click to see story)

There is a new fight that is brewing against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the residents of Utah, namely in the small town of Blanding. While it might be understandable the frustration they are feeling because of the ineptitude of the BLM and its disorganized and seemingly arbitrary delineations of land demarcations, they do still have a job and they need to be accountable for doing it. Thus, the backlash against the federal government is beginning to culminate in the local White Mormon residents of Utah vs. the BLM, especially in the wake of the FBI raids of 2009 when they claimed that the alleged law-breakers were arrested with excessive force using “overkill” force by the feds.

Billboard upon entering Blanding, Utah: both Indians and artifacts

Billboard upon entering Blanding, Utah: both Indians and artifacts

As stated by MotherJones.com: “This Saturday, angry residents of San Juan County, Utah, plan to illegally ride their ATVs through Utah’s Recapture Canyon—an 11 mile-long stretch of federal land that is home to Native American archeological sites—because they don’t think that the federal Bureau of Land Management should have designated that land off-limits to motor vehicles. The protest was meant to be a local affair. But on Thursday, Bundy, the rancher who wouldn’t pay the feds grazing fees and sparked a gun-drenched showdown in Nevada, called on his supporters to join the anti-government off-roading event, E&E Publishing’s Phil Taylor reported. Bundy, whose crusade against the federal government became tainted by his racist comments, is looking to spread the cause from cattle to cross-country cruising.”

All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) can do damage on trails with fragile ecosystems and irreplaceable archaeological sites of indigenous ancestors which are all over San Juan County

This time, the BLM is the target for this same demographic and is supported by the son of Cliven Bundy of Nevada who is recently become somewhat popular among staunch Republicans as a poster boy for American land-owners against the BLM but is also…a recorded racist in talking about African-Americans. Apparently, these same people have forgotten that it is not a question about them owning the land or the government land because it is not their land: it is Native American land.

Cliven Bundy

Cliven Bundy of Nevada

Let me restate that so it sinks in: If this is a question about being an American with freedoms and rights to own land without as much government interference or regulation, then you couldn’t be more spot on when talking about Native American communities, everywhere, including there in Utah, who have had to deal with not just the government but the settler-colonial agents of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny since the beginning of this Western imposed nation-state you call America. This argument does not include Indians because we are older than America and preclude these “rights” that were written for a similar crowd at the time of the Constitution (white land owners who were business man and developers). Whose land is this? This is Indian land. It has always been our land. It will always be our land. We are not going anywhere. We will not leave. This is our home. The sooner both ranchers like Bundy or San Juan citizens like Phil Lyman can get that, the more they can get to the root of the problem: Land issues.

Phil Lyman, San Juan County Commissioner leading ATV protest

Phil Lyman, San Juan County Commissioner leading ATV protest

Could it be that they are so desperate to talk about land issues that they are willing to use racists and their sons as symbols of their fight? Or is that just a natural inclination of San Juan citizens according to the treatment of American Indians in the local area in a number of cases (i.e. disrespectfully selling and collecting Native American artifacts in 2009, attempting to defy the Antiquities Act and Eastern Lands Bill for land use open to everyone by Congressman Bishop in 2013, etc.) Even Bundy’s argument misses the mark because there were the Dann Sisters, of the Western Shoshone tribe, who tried to fight for their land and their ranch but were not as publicly recognized or given as much attention about their land issues as Bundy seems to be getting now. Maybe its because the sisters didn’t say anything racist. I don’t know.

Western Shoshone sisters of Nevada

Western Shoshone Dann sisters of Nevada

Utah officials and citizens are hiding behind their “rights” as American citizens that they pretend to respect but are willing to literally tread upon their own government for their own benefits. In addition, they disrespect the local Native American populations as well by not listening, respecting, or leaving the artifacts that are not supposed to be collected alone. They are willing to destroy ancient archaeological artifacts and sites that are supposed to be protected, preserved, and acknowledged as spaces that should be respected. In this day and age, with both Native and non-Native peoples sharing a community and land, there is no excuse for this kind of ignorance mixed with privilege and power from a powerful group “asserting” its “rights” over another marginalized group. It is appalling to me the conduct of a supposedly Mormon town towards their own nation and other sovereign indigenous nations that live there in the area such as the White Mesa Paiute, Ute Mountain Tribe, and the Navajo. Do these Blanding citizens have no other way to show their protest than to destroy the place that they love by riding ATV’s over it and not including Native American perspectives in this conversation?

 

Ancient indigenous archaeological sites

Ancient indigenous archaeological sites of San Juan County

Yale University Screening of “Into America” on April 1, 2014

 

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It was a gorgeous and sunny day at New Haven, Connecticut just after a snowy day had dusted the campus early the previous morning. We were able to tour the campus and the Native American Cultural Center at Yale with all the interesting and deep history of the place and the town.

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Thank you to the Native American Cultural Center and all the native students who came to support the film screening and the lecture by Brown University faculty! We want to especially thank Tyler and his organizing efforts and thinking of us to bring us here. All the students and faculty were amazing and very warm and made us feel comfortable with their welcome song by the Blue Feather Drum Group.

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Thanks to all who were able to come and make the trip to see us, feeding us with a great dinner, and asking great questions about the film!

This event was sponsored by:

The Indigenous Graduate Network,

Native American Cultural Center,

Yale Group for the Study of Native America,

Ethnicity, Race, and Migration

American Students

Native American Law Students Association

Association of Native Americans at Yale

Yale American Indian Science & Engineering Society

Yale Native American Arts Council

Blue Feather Drum Group

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Antioch University Film Screening in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2014

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The screening for the Contemporary Social Issues series at Antioch University in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2014 was a great success. Helen Yellowman and Angelo Baca presented the film and fielded questions after the film. Regrettably, director Nadine Zacharias was not able to attend via Skype as we strive to present and represent the film as accurately and correctly as possible as a shared project. However, she was busy with the YoungDok presentation in Germany and we also anticipate some great photos from that event sometime in the near future. I think that coordinating these things are challenging since Germany is so far away and the time difference is great but we do what we can!

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Helen Yellowman speaking to the crowd at Antioch University on March 22, 2014

The best part of the experience was sitting down with people after the screening and talking with them one-on-one with the audience after the event was over at a nearby cafe. It was good to take the time to know the people who came and speak with them in a more traditional Navajo way, especially with the presence of my grandmother who wanted to know who they all were. She did a beautiful job of visiting and talking as everyone there was very respectful listening and introducing themselves to her. Her presence reminded us all of the unity of family and how she so easily becomes everyone’s grandmother with everyone around her becoming her grandchildren. My admiration and awe grows each time I witness adults and young people alike become children right before our eyes near her.

Speaking with Shimasuni (grandmother) Helen Yellowman at dinner

Speaking with Shimasani (grandmother) Helen Yellowman at dinner

I want to thank Native Gathering Students at Antioch University in Seattle and Susan for organizing at Antioch University for doing a great job of putting the event on, being welcoming and warm hosts, and putting the word out to the community for the screening while getting us a nice space and providing food, even traditional blue corn mush! Thank you very much for all your hard work and “it is well” (ya’at’eeh).

Ethnographischer Film und INTO AMERICA in der Reihe YoungDok am Haus des Dokumentarfilms Stuttgart

Karl Heider, Ethnologe und Filmemacher, beschrieb in seiner bekannten Abhandlung  zum  Ethnographischen Film, in welches Spannungsfeld sich ein Filmemacher mit ethnologischer Ausbildung begibt:

The term itself (Ethnographic Film) seems to embody an inherent tension or conflict between two ways of seeing and understanding, two strategies for bringing order to (or imposing order on) experience: the scientific and the aesthetic. The evolution of ethnographic filmmaking has been a continuous process attempting to reconcile this tension, to achieve a fertile synthesis. Ideally, ethnographic films unite the art and skills of the filmmaker with the trained intellect and insights of the ethnographer. (Heider, 1976: p.ix)”

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Die Regisseurin von INTO AMERICA kennt - als gelernte Ethnolgin – dieses Spannungsfeld von Kunst und Wissenschaft nur allzu gut.

Wir laden alle Interessierten zu der Reihe YoungDok im Haus des Dokumentarfilms in Stuttgart am Mittwoch 19. März um 19 Uhr ein. Zusammen diskutieren wir Aspekte des Ethnogrpahischen Films, und arbeiten Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten des Ethnographischen Films und des klassischen Dokumentarfilm heraus. Vielleicht wagen wir am Ende dann auch eine Definition des “Ethnographischen Films”.

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Ethnographic Films, Anthropologists and INTO AMERICA at the Haus des Dokumentarfilms Stuttgart

Karl Heider a famous director and anthropologist once said about Ethnographic film: “The term itself seems to embody an inherent tension or conflict between two ways of seeing and understanding, two strategies for bringing order to (or imposing order on) experience: the scientific and the aesthetic. The evolution of ethnographic filmmaking has been a continuous process attempting to reconcile this tension, to achieve a fertile synthesis. Ideally, ethnographic films unite the art and skills of the filmmaker with the trained intellect and insights of the ethnographer. (Heider, 1976: p.ix)”

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The director of INTO AMERICA has a profound background as an anthropologist and knows about the aforementioned tension. We would like to invite everybody interested in learning about Ethnographic Film and its relation to our film INTO AMERICA to join us on Wednesday, March 19th at the Haus des Dokumentarfilms in Stuttgart. The organizers of YoungDok and the film team evaluate what it means to be a filmmaker with an anthropological background and discuss different approaches how to make documentary/ ethnographic films.  With this, we dare to provide a definition of “Ethnographic Film”.

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“Standing on Sacred Ground” Film Series at Wesleyan University

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March 1 & 2 at Wesleyan University featured the “Standing on Sacred Ground” Film Series with director Christopher “Toby” McLeod (featured at the far left) who has been doing this project since the early 1990′s now sharing his films with the world by touring, screening, and conversing with various audiences. Filmmaker Angelo Baca was invited to participate on the panel commentating on the film and talking with the audiences during Q & A. Of course, we mentioned “Into America” as another film associated with indigenous peoples fighting for and trying to protect our traditional lands. This film series goes around the globe from the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea fighting to protect their waters to the tar sands of Alberta, from Russian shamans protecting their lands to the Winnemem Wintu fighting a dam project by the government, to Native Peruvians trying to keep their foods alive in the face of climate change and the Ethiopian tribal peoples attempting to keep their traditional ways and lands, to Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians reclaiming traditional land and resisting the government and the military.

He is also known for his highly acclaimed film “In the Light of Reverence” also dealing with sacred site protection but specifically in the United States. Christopher traveled to many native communities and was willing to share his experiences with the audiences at Wesleyan and the panel of academics, traditional native people, and other filmmakers. It was an honor to participate with a great group of people on an excellent project. Now, more than ever, is the time for all of humanity to unite against the destruction of our sacred places, the natural world, and indigenous communities.

The discussions from the panel was fantastic and ranged on many topics from traditional native views, teachings, and culture of the land to academic perspectives of theory, philosophy, and modernity. The wide experiences and background made for interesting and rich conversation which included great input and feedback from the audience with their questions and comments. Our hosts were gracious, generous, and welcoming.

We want to thank the Wesleyan Film Studies Department, Department of Religion, Department of Anthropology, and everyone else who put this together whom I am sure are far too many to mention, including Toby and his supporters who helped fund his project and see it to fruition. Keep watch out for the film series as it will be shown on PBS some time in the near future.

 www.http://standingonsacredground.org/            www.http://www.sacredland.org/home/films/in-production/

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Utah Unlikely to “take back” federal lands

This is a fantastic editorial piece out of the Deseret News from Robert Bennett, a former US Senator from Utah, about the need to leave federal lands alone in which “the original owners were Utes and Navajos”. Notice it was published a few days ago, but the words and brief history he gives from an experienced perspective are valuable to the general public but also those of us who are attempting to retain our rightful claim to our lands, culture, history, and traditional sacred places that need protecting in the face of governmental, capitalist ventures, and natural resource exploitation. It is nice to see a reasoned and logical argument from another perspective than our own; we need allies to help us secure our traditional lands and keep them from being desecrated or otherwise wrongfully appropriated.