by Leah Jackson
The second annual Native American Film Club offers a mix of contemporary documentaries and fictional films. This year’s theme is Representation and Resistance.
Northwestern State University will celebrate Native American Heritage Month by screening indigenous-made films on Thursdays in November. Locations vary within the Student Union. Refreshments will be served at the Nov. 19 screening. COVID protocols will be strictly enforced.
“Reel Injuns” explores (mis)-portrayals of Native people in historical and contemporary films. With wry humor, the film examines how these portrayals affect Native people. It screens Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Mini Ballroom on the building’s first floor.
“The Business of Fancydancing” screens Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Mini Ballroom. After the death of a childhood friend, poet Seymour, who has achieved acclaim for a mostly non-Indian audience and now lives as an urban Indian with a white boyfriend, faces a conflicted return to the reservation where he grew up.
Two shorter documentaries, “Black Indians: An American Story” and “Dawnland,” will screen Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Student Union Ballroom. Refreshments will be provided. “Black Indians” introduces the audience to the histories and cultures of African-Indigenous people in the U.S. “Dawnland” considers centuries-old government policies that forced removal of American Indian children from their communities, focused on the experiences of the Wabanaki Nation.
“Trudell” is a biography of John Trudell (Santee Sioux/Mexican), an American Indian Movement activist, leader and musician who served as the “voice of Alcatraz” and whose activism was transformed by a life-changing tragedy. It screens Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Student Union Mini Ballroom.
Screenings are open to the public, however, participants must pre-register. Social distancing and mask wearing will be enforced. The registration link can be access here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d49a8ab22aafdc25-native
Regarding the films, Brittany Broussard, Director of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity, who co-organized the event, said, “I am so excited to be showing these phenomenal films. I believe visible representation is so important especially for those in a minority group. Being able to identify with someone on the tv screen gives inspiration to others who may not think they can do something based on their background.”
Riall said that the Native American Film Club is an annual event that aims to be meaningful for Native audiences while also approachable to everyone.
“We choose films that are interesting for Native people but also help others understand the complexities of Native life, preferably with a sense of humor. This year, we focused on themes of representation and resistance. For example, many people see Indian-ness in terms of race, rather than as a status of tribal citizenship, and are unaware of the long history of Afro-Indigenous peoples. We hope to inspire people to learn more about the history of American Indians and how Native nations have creatively resisted assimilation, racism and injustice,” she said.
The film series is sponsored by NSU’s Center for Inclusion and Diversity, the NSU Anthropology program, the Department of Criminal Justice, History, and the Social Sciences, and the Pre-Law and Paralegal Studies Program. For more information, contact Riall at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 357-6963.