August 14, 2007

Navajos try to censor satire?

Joe Shirley Reacts to "D.C. Navajo"On Friday August 10, 2007; apparently the comedy short film "D.C. Navajo" reached the eyes of Joe Shirley. Needless to say, the film upset him. Joe Shirley sent one of his assistants (Andre Cordero) to the Kayenta Township (where I work) to inform my supervisors of what some of the Township employess were doing. He stated that some employees of the Township were making a mockery of the Navajo Nation and that the Township needed to address and take care of this issue. He also indirectly stated that the township needed to reprimand and/or terminate us. Andre also stated that Joe Shirley cancelled the Sunday public meeting in Kayenta because of this issue. The meeting was in regards to Kayenta Township issues and the community of Kayenta.

Canceling this meeting in my opinion was direct punishment to the Kayenta Township for something the Township had nothing to with. Nor did the Kayenta Township have any control over it. We (Jarvis Williams and I, both Township employees) did this film on our own time, not on work time.

The film deals with a corrupt tribal official in the Washington D.C. Navajo Nation Office who accepts kick backs, discarding important mail in to the trash can and giving the run around to a consultant trying to get paid for services rendered to the Navajo Nation D.C. office. The film was produced as a comedy and was not to be taken seriously.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the post about this film, and it holds a fascitating position within Native film history, in its depictions are refreshing, as is it's intent. Controversy of this kind is important, and Shirley's reaction is what makes it more so, and looking at the path of De La Rosa's work it think it might be a mistake to say that this film is not to be taken seriously. Because it is a comedy, it should not dismiss the serious nature of it's criticism. Also, because it is is critical, it should also not be dismissed as misleading or simply offensive without being ironic and progressive. I applaud the film as well as the controversy. It's about time we have work, as short as this one is, that is smart enough to take a hard look at where we are going wrong as a people.

Sunrise Tippeconnie, Comanche filmmaker

Rob said...

I think Shirley and the Kayenta council are overreacting. The video was a general indictment of Washington lobbyists, not a specific indictment of this administration or anyone in it.

The only connection to the Navajo Nation was the video's title and the placard on the lobbyist's desk. Change these two things and it could've been a criticism of any tribal lobbyist.

And the criticism was pretty mild. The lobbyist spends two minutes chatting to some bigwigs about getting paid, which is pretty standard in Washington DC. Then he spends eight minutes ignoring a filmmaker's plea for payment before claiming he'll look into it. This isn't a searing indictment of anyone; it's more like a realistic look at how some political operatives operate.

That politicians sometimes don't care about the people they serve isn't news. This patently obvious observation probably goes back to the plays of ancient Greece or the stories of ancient tribes. "Coyote is too self-important to help his fellow animals" at 11.

Anonymous said...

Here's a story about this from the Gallup Independent. I got an e-mail from the reporter stating that her editor butchered the hell out of this story. She e-mailed me the original story, but I dunno if I'm allowed to post it. Anyway, according to Press Officer George Hardeen, I made this all up to publicize the film. You be the judge. I'd love to hear everyones opinion on this.


Anonymous said...

Oops, here's the story:

Anonymous said...

More on D.C. Navajo from the Farmington Daily Times.

Anonymous said...

Navajo Times has an article out on this too, but not available online yet.

Rob said...

If you have an article to share, it's best to post just the link or e-mail me the link and the text for posting.

I posted an excerpt from the Farmington Times article the day after posting this item.