November 16, 2006

Native Santa

What to My Wondering Eyes Should Appear, but a Miniature Sleigh, and Eight Tiny...Bison?He goes by many names, but the story of a Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and now, Redshirt. The mythical man who bestows gifts to children and the needy is timeless and cherished in European countries. But like any folk tale worth sharing, the legend enjoys adaptations unique to the cultures it serves.

Clement Moore’s classic A Visit from St. Nicholas has taken on a decidedly indigenous flavor in Gary Robinson’s new video storybook, A Native American Night Before Christmas. The partially animated short film, produced by Robinson’s Tribal Eye Productions, follows the story of Redshirt, a Native Santa on his Christmas Eve journey. The vivid illustrations by Jesse Hummingbird show a whimsical Redshirt who instead of the familiar red cap sports a pippin’ headdress and has traded in Santa’s reindeer for bison.
Note:  Jesse Hummingbird is another artist who's an FoPP (Friend of PEACE PARTY).

4 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
As if any of the 'saints' of EuroMan origin should have any application to the New World, which blissfully was unaware of Christian contamination until 1492... writerfella was commissioned in 1971 to write a non-sectarian. non-Christian 'Nativity' story to be presented on Oklahoma television by Oklahomans For Indian Opportunity, a corporation started by US Senator Fred Harris. The eventual script, "A Star, A Child, And A Promise" was written in record time by writerfella and thence presented for 15 years by KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. There were no angels, no Xmas carols, and no references to EuroMan's Nativity. And it was a success, missing an Emmy Award for local TV by five votes.
In the presentation, Kiowa braves out on a winter hunt see falling stars seem to fall on the Kiowa winter camp. In the interim, a tribal couple lost in a blizzard have become separated from their tribe that was moving west. They find the Kiowa camp, ask if they can stay there, but all of the Kiowa tipis are full. The chief allows that they can stay in the arbors that protect the horses. There, the woman then gives birth to a child, and meteors begin to fall. The event brings the Great Chiefs of the North, the East, the South, and the West to the Kiowa camp. And when the blizzard ends, the Kiowas are asked if a child was born during the storm. The Great Chiefs are told no, there was no such birth. And then they find that the couple they sheltered have had a child. And the father then greets the Chiefs and the Chief of the Kiowa, and announces that his wife indeed has had a child. They all come to see the child, and the father presents them with gifts to honor his son: North, sage; East, cedar; South, corn; West, a bison robe; and to the Kiowa Chief, he gives eagle feathers. The storm ends, runners come in to tell that the couple's tribe is located to the north, and the couple leaves, telling all assembled that their people are moving west, but their son will return one day to thank them for their sanctuary. The story then switches to a Kiowa chieftain who is telling the tale to children of the Kiowas, saying that the child they sheltered went on to become a very important man in the west, and that they await his return to tell them that they did right by saving him and his parents.
Fortunately for writerfella, he has a copy of the 1971 videotape because all copies of the program ceased to exist and eventually he plans to release it to any and all Native tribes that wish to see it. Parallel tales such as that one fall into Joseph Campbell's philosophy that human stories always are told according to the culture of the people to whom they occur. writerfella has no argument there.
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Not a Sioux said...

I always call the things buffalo. "Bison" always seemed fussy. Just about every reference from Natives uses the word buffalo too. I mean, has anyone ever heard of "White Bison Calf Woman"?

Rob said...

I like both versions of the Christmas story. Good show all around.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And it was this very story that one year ago, Wallace Coffey,the Chairman of the Comanche Tribe, published in several area newspapers as a supposedly authentic Comanche tale from antiquity. He even kept my title, "A Star, A Child, And A Promise." Immediately, writerfella contacted as many of the newspapers as he could determine and informed them that they had been the victim of a hoax. The story material was copyrighted in writerfella's name by Oklahomans For Indian Opportunity and all subsidiary rights belong to him. The papers were held 'absent malice' by writerfella, who then went after the Comanche Chairman with a legal stick or two, warning him that he now is under government scrutiny for copyright infringement and that if he even so much as re-uses a postage stamp, legal actions will be brought against him for his action. In the videotape of the dramatization, the end credits list matters thusly: Camera Operator -- Wallace Coffey. And that is why he knew my story, even to the title, and why he was able to recall it to misuse and infringe for his own purposes. Sometimes a writer (and a writerfella) can make stupid people quake in their boots...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'