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American Indian Symposium Film Series at NSU scheduled for April 12-15

(Tahlequah, OK)--The NET Auditorium will serve as the screening room during the Film Series at the 38th annual Symposium on the American Indian, organized by the Center for Tribal Studies at Northeastern State University.

Preliminary symposium activities begin April 12 with the full schedule running April 14-17. This year’s theme is “Oklahoma Fancy Dance.”

All screenings are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 nightly and programs begin at 7.

Monday's screening is the documentary Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding Schools. Told from the Native American perspective, this 80-minute documentary by Rich-Heape Films ( uncovers the dark history of U.S. government Indian education policy and gives a voice to the children forced through the system. The documentary is rated for all ages.

A series of short films is scheduled Tuesday. The early feature is a special screening of Cherokee documentaries with an introduction by Cherokee film artists Joseph Erb and Roy Boney of the Cherokee Nation Education Services Group.

The Trail of Tears (23 minutes) was commissioned for the National Park Service and Cherokee Nation. It tells the story of the Cherokee removal from an inside perspective. Cherokee Immersion (20 minutes) enters Cherokee Nation classrooms where children are empowered to carry the gift of language into the future through a tribal language revitalization initiative.

The late portion features Native American film entrepreneurs. Nathan Young and Sterlin Harjo discuss their selections of experimental short films by peers in the growing pool of emergning Native filmmakers. Selections include Blackhorse Lowe’s Shimisani (20 minutes); Kevin Lee Burton’s Nikamowin (11 minutes); and Andrew Okpeaha Maclean’s Sikumi (On the Ice) (15 minutes).

The People, episode No. 1007 of OETA Stateline, will be shown Wednesday. This documentary examines the struggles of American Indians to preserve ancient traditions in a modern world and what is being done in Oklahoma to maintain the identity of "The People." Features include the Kiowa Black Leggings Society, Haskell Institute, Osage language, Yuchi artist Richard Whitman and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Buffalo restoration program. The one-hour documentary is appropriate for all ages (

Its introduction is by Vanessa Jennings, Kiowa cradleboard maker and granddaughter of Stephen Mopope, a Kiowa artist whose original mural is displayed on the wall in NSU’s Seminary Hall. The film also features NSU alumnus Joyce Childers Bear, a Haskell Boarding School graduate, who will join Jennings for the Q&A after the film.

Thursday's feature is The Dead Can't Dance, written and directed by Rodrick Pocowatchit. This third offering from Pocowatchit, released by Harmyfilms (, is a comedy-adventure which follows three Native American men who discover they are somehow immune to a mysterious plague that is turning everyone else into zombies.

The screenings are presented with the support of the American Indian Resource Center, the Cherokee Nation CRC and Cherokee Nation Education Services Group, Cherokee Nation Entertainment, Muscogee Creek Casino, the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center, the NSU Coalition for HIV/AIDS Education Promotion and Native Peer Educators, NSU American Indian Studies - College of Liberal Arts and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Dr. Phyllis Fife, director for the center, said this year's Symposium of the American Indian is an ambitious effort to showcase the contributions of Native Americans.

“We want to feature the creative and innovative initiatives that Oklahoma tribes are involved in,” said Fife. “We’ve invited presenters from an array of different tribal groups.”

The symposium includes traditional arts booths, book displays, film screenings, a science luncheon on April 16, workshops and the annual NSU Alumni Powwow on Saturday. For more information, visit

Published: 3/31/2010 2:05:48 PM

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