June 24, 2008

Comanche film-score controversy

Did a White Supremacist Intimidate the Oklahoma Historical Society on Comanche Film?Last year the Oklahoma Historical Society decided to commission a musical score for Daughter of Dawn, a 1920 silent film. The actors are almost all Comanche or Kiowa. Such a film obviously is of great interest to Comanche people. Many of the actors were grandparents or great-grandparents of many Comanche living today.

Brent Michael Davids, a Mohican classical composer with eighteen years of film scoring experience and over two dozen film scores to his credit, was the early favorite to score the film. A number of prominent Comanches, including educators Juanita Pahdopony and Leslie Whitefeather, recommended him. Robert Blackburn, the president of the OHS, praised Davids’s work on the film repeatedly and other employees of the OHS also at first believed Davids would score the film.

Enter white supremacist David Yeagley.
Blackburn chose Yeagley over Davids:Blackburn would claim in emails that he hired Yeagley “solely because he was Comanche” and that “Comanche and Kiowa tribal representatives” demanded he hire Yeagley. Yet neither Blackburn nor Yeagley have ever publicly named any American Indians who supposedly recommended Yeagley, and the Comanche leadership were never consulted, and ignored when they offered their opinion. Blackburn then went one step further and even threatened a lawsuit if this article were published or the subject written about.

The reason for that threat of a lawsuit may be that, ironically, it was libel coming from Yeagley himself, or perhaps a Yeagley supporter, that caused Blackburn to drop the most likely, experienced, and highly recommended candidate, Davids, in favor of Yeagley. Blackburn has now entirely changed his story, and claims that Davids was dropped because he had no experience scoring films. Yet Davids has extensive experience, over two dozen film scores and eighteen years of experience, while Yeagley is an amateur who had absolutely no experience in film scoring. Blackburn had previously highly praised Davids’ proposal and partial scoring of the film as “a great job” and “highly professional,” indicating he had not only seen it and listened to it, but given it long and serious consideration.

1 comment:

jdogg said...

This is unfortunate and disgraceful. Davids has much experience and is widely known in the Native community while Yeagley is despised to those who actually have heard about him and know what he's all about.

I really don't understand how this could happen. Good reporting.