Ohero:kon - Under the Husk

OHERO:KON - UNDER THE HUSK follows two Mohawk girls on their journey to become Mohawk women. Friends since childhood, Kaienkwinehtha and Kasennakohe are members of the traditional community of Akwesasne on the U.S./Canada border. Together, they undertake a four-year rite of passage for adolescents, called Oheró:kon, or “under the husk.” The ceremony had been nearly extinct, a casualty of colonialism and intergenerational trauma; revived in the past decade by two traditional leaders, it has since flourished. Filmmaker Katsitsionni Fox has served as a mentor, or “auntie,” to many youth going through the passage rites. In UNDER THE HUSK, Fox shares two girls’ journey through adolescence, as they rise to the tasks of Oheró:kon, learning traditional practices such as basket making and survival skills as well as contemporary teachings about sexual health and drug and alcohol prevention. UNDER THE HUSK is a personal story of a traditional practice challenging young girls spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, shaping the women they become.
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LaDonna Harris: Indian 101

LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101 from Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum, chronicles the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream America history since the 1960s. In this new verite style documentary, Brannum, the great niece of Harris, celebrates her life and the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for Native people and her contemporary work to strengthen and rebuild indigenous communities and train emerging Native leaders around the world. Harris’s activism began in Oklahoma, fighting segregation and assisting grassroots Native and women’s groups. In Washington LaDonna introduced landmark programs and legislation returning territory to tribes, improving education and healthcare for Native Americans, ending job discrimination against women, and targeting other pressing issues of the time. For over three decades, “Indian 101,” her course for legislators, combatted ignorance about America’s most marginalized population. Using interviews, archival footage and photographs, this film justly celebrates one of the most important women leaders in Native American and U.S. history.
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Skydancer

Renowned for their balance and skill, six generations of Mohawk men have been leaving their families behind on the reservation to travel to New York City, to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world. Jerry McDonald Thundercloud and his colleague Sky shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their rural reservation, a gruelling drive six hours north, where a family weekend awaits. Their wives are only too familiar with the sacrifices that their jobs have upon family life. While the men are away working, the women often struggle to keep their children away from the illegal temptations of this economically deprived area. Through archival documents and interviews, Academy Award®-nominated director Katja Esson (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) explores the colorful and at times tragic history of the Mohawk skywalkers, bringing us a nuanced portrait of modern Native American life and a visually stunning story of double lives.
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Apache 8

For 30 years, the all-female Apache 8 unit has protected their reservation from fire and also responded to wildfires around the nation. This group of firefighters, which recently became co-ed, soon earned the reputation of being fierce, loyal and dependable—and tougher than their male colleagues. Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters. From director Sande Zeig and executive producer Heather Rae (Cherokee), APACHE 8 combines archival footage and present-day interviews and focuses primarily on four women from different generations of Apache 8 crewmembers, who speak tenderly and often humorously of hardship, loss, family, community and pride in being a firefighter. The women are separated from their families, face tribe initiation, and struggle to make a living in a community ravaged by unemployment and substance abuse. But while the women may have initially set out to try and earn a living in their economically challenged community, they quickly discover an inner strength and resilience that speaks to their traditions and beliefs as Native women.
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Women Organize!

WOMEN ORGANIZE! is an inspirational, half hour film that portrays women organizers across the U.S. who are involved in the global struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. In this film, we meet five women organizers of various backgrounds, peek at the campaigns they wage, and watch as they begin to pick up the tools to document their own transformative work. From working with high schools girls in a low-income neighborhood in Oregon to speaking out for Black lesbians and gays against homophobia or working with Asian immigrant women factory workers in California for decent working conditions, WOMEN ORGANIZE is an important film that should be used in women’s and ethnic studies classes and community based organizations.
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Honey Moccasin

This all-Native production, by director Shelley Niro (Mohawk), is part of the Smoke Signals new wave of films that examine Native identity in the 1990’s. Set on the Grand Pine Indian Reservation, aka “Reservation X”, HONEY MOCCASIN combines elements of melodrama, performance art, cable access, and ‘whodunit’ to question conventions of ethnic and sexual identity as well as film narrative. A comedy/thriller complete with a fashion show and torchy musical numbers, this witty film employs a surreal pastiche of styles to depict the rivalry between bars The Smokin’ Moccasin and The Inukshuk Cafe, the saga of closeted drag queen/powwow clothing thief Zachary John, and the travails of crusading investigator Honey Moccasin. This irreverent reappropriation of familiar narrative strategies serves as a provocative spring-board for an investigation of authenticity, cultural identity, and the articulation of modern Native American experience in cinematic language and pop culture.
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Hózhó of Native Women

"Five Native American Women from diverse tribal backgrounds tell moving stories, from their lives and cultural memory that concern wellness — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual — and the connection of Native women through shared experience and cultural legacy. That legacy enables them to merge traditional ways of living and healing with contemporary life in this hopeful, heartfelt, and beautiful piece. Highly recommended for classes in Women's Studies, American Studies, Diversity, and Multicultural Studies." - Jane Caputi, Florida Atlantic University Sundance Film Festival
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Real Indian

REAL INDIAN is a lighthearted, very personal look at the meaning of cultural identity. As a Lumbee Indian, the filmmaker is constantly confronted with the fact that she doesn't fit any of society's stereotypes for Native Americans. Those stereotypes are imposed by both whites and other Indians, alienating the filmmaker from many of the conventional definitions of Native American identity. REAL INDIAN is a unique look into the fascinating and complex world of Lumbee Indian culture and makes the viewer question perceptions of Native Americans, as well as the meaning of our own cultural identity.
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The Desert Is No Lady

With provocative imagery and spirited juxtapositions, THE DESERT IS NO LADY looks at the Southwest through the eyes of its leading contemporary women artists and writers, including author Sandra Cisneros. The nine women profiled are Pat Mora (poet), Sandra Cisneros (writer), Lucy Tapahonso (poet), Emmi Whitehorse (painter), Harmony Hammond (painter), Meridel Rubinstein (photographer), Nora Naranjo Morse (sculptor), Pola Lopez de Jaramillo (painter) and Ramona Sakiestewa (tapestry artist). The Southwest is a border territory - where cultures meet and mix - and the work of these nine women from Pueblo, Navajo, Mexican-American and Anglo backgrounds reflects its special characteristics. THE DESERT IS NO LADY is a vibrant celebration of the diversity of women's creativity and changing multicultural America. "An inspiring tapestry of history, imagination and daily life. I highly recommend it." - Vicki L. Ruiz, Arizona State University
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Sweating Indian Style

The appropriation of Native American traditions by non-Natives comes under thoughtful scrutiny in this insightful documentary. As it follows the New Age activities of a group of Californian women learning to construct a sweat lodge and perform their own ceremony, it raises important questions about the use of elements of Native culture out of context, apart from the complex realities of American Indian experience. Interviews with diverse Native American women point out the problems inherent in this increasingly popular New Age phenomenon and its relationship to traditional forms of colonialism.
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Song Journey

SONG JOURNEY takes Arlene Bowman (Navajo) on the pow-wow circuit in the hope of reviving her connection to traditional Native culture. There she finds a fascinating movement amongst Native American female musicians who are both carrying forward the musical traditions of the First Nations as well as conducting a gentle but effective rebellion against the male monopoly of the "inner circle" represented by the drum. SONG JOURNEY is a powerful illustration of the strength of contemporary Native cultural identity and a wonderful companion to Bowman's award-winning NAVAJO TALKING PICTURE. SONG JOURNEY was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Honoring Our Voices

Sharing their stories about recovery and healing, six Native women of different ages and backgrounds talk about the choices they have made to overcome the hardships of family violence and end the cycle of abuse and silence. Through the far-reaching changes in their lives, they reveal the rewards of empowering themselves and their families, as well as the strengths of counseling based in Native healing strategies and traditions. Directed by Judi Jeffrey (Metis) and produced by the Native Counselling Services of Alberta, this thought-provoking documentary is a valuable tool for education, prevention and intervention.
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Honored by the Moon

In this upbeat and empowering film, Native American lesbians and gay men speak of their unique historical and spiritual role. Within the Native American community, homosexuality was traditionally associated with the power to bridge worlds. Interviews with leading activists and personal testimony attest to the positive and painful experiences of being Native and gay. Produced by Smith (Dakota) for the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force to raise issues of homophobia within the Indian community, this ground-breaking documentary is also an important contribution to culturally sensitive discussions of homosexuality.
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...And Woman Wove It in a Basket

For the Klickitat Indians in Oregon, basketweaving is a way of reclaiming native forms and heritage. This evocative portrayal of basketweaver Nettie Jackson Kuneki and her family explores Klickitat river culture within an investigation of documentary practice and cultural preservation. Capturing native life as experienced by a contemporary Klickitat woman, the film presents her daily activities through seasonal changes, the documentation of her craft and a visual history of Indian tales and legends. Voices of the filmmakers' own quest supplement Kuneki's reflections, creating a unique tapestry of personal memory and cultural collaboration that is invaluable for ethnographic film studies, Native American collections and women's studies.
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Picking Tribes

“In a heartfelt, and often hilarious, attempt to be more than ‘ordinary,’ a girl growing up in the 1940s tries to choose between her African-American and Native-American heritages. It is only when her beloved grandfather dies that she is able to reconcile the power of both her heritages and realizes her own uniqueness." -Moving Pictures Bulletin Sharp uses vintage photographs and Carlos Spivey’s watercolor animation to create a spirited portrait of a girl’s search for identity. Now with Bonus Short Film: BACK INSIDE HERSELF 2009 Remix by S. Pearl Sharp (4min 45secs) Originally released in 1984, this lyrical visual poem featuring Barbara-O urges black women to both discover and invent their own identities. The 2009 remix includes updated audio with vocals by Sharp and Dwight Trible.
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Her Giveaway

Carole Lafavor (Ojibwe), activist, mother and registered nurse, is a person with AIDS. In this candid and moving portrait, Lafavor relates how she has come to terms with AIDS by combining her traditional beliefs and healing practices with western medicine. HER GIVEAWAY is more than just basic information—it is an inspiring example of how we can all learn from the Native American philosophy of illness. Produced by Smith (Dakota) for the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force, this film confronts the “official” invisibility of women, Native Americans and lesbians with AIDS.
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Navajo Talking Picture

In NAVAJO TALKING PICTURE film student Arlene Bowman (Navajo) travels to the Reservation to document the traditional ways of her grandmother. The filmmaker persists in spite of her grandmother's forceful objections to this invasion of her privacy. Ultimately, what emerges is a thought-provoking work which abruptly calls into question issues of "insider/outsider" status in a portrait of an assimilated Navajo struggling to use a "white man's" medium to capture the remnants of her cultural past. Excellent for film studies as well as those interested in Native American culture.
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Mother of Many Children

Composed of a series of vignettes featuring Native women from different first nations, this classic work by Alanis Obomsawin, an Abenaki, reflects a proud matriarchal culture that for centuries has been pressured to adopt the values and traditions of white society. By tracing the cycle of Native women's lives from birth to childhood, puberty, young adulthood, maturity and old age, the film shows how Native women have struggled to regain a sense of equality, instilled cultural pride in their children and passed on their stories and language to younger generations. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
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