As the camera stopped rolling, a film crew of about 100 people began changing scenes, rearranging lights, patting sweat from actors’ brows and resetting microphones.
The crew is making “We Shall Remain,” a five-part documentary drama for the Public Broadcasting Service’s “American Experience.” They arrived here last Thursday and will remain through Friday, taping at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Ga., the New Echota Historic Site near Calhoun, Ga., and Red Clay State Historic Park in Cleveland, Tenn.
The filming here will be part of segment three in “We Shall Remain,” a series described by PBS spokesmen as “a provocative multi-media production that establishes Native American history as an essential part of U.S. history. The entire series covers 400 years, ending in 1973 with the occupation of Wounded Knee.”
“It’s important to me. It’s a story about our people,” said Mr. Studi, who’s performed in films such as “Seraphim Falls,” “Skinwalkers” and “Heat.” “Most of the stories told about this time in the Cherokee nation have been slanted toward the John Ross faction. This story is told from the viewpoint of the Ridge treaty party.”
Mr. Studi and the filmmakers said the film will show not only that the Cherokee of the time were not stereotypical of most Hollywood drama but were a growing and civilized nation with emerging political factions.
New Echota, where the Cherokee capital moved when Tennessee pushed the Indians south of the Tennessee River, was a model town with frame homes, farms, a courthouse and a post office.
In one scene, Mr. Eyre said, the character Major Ridge rides on his plantation to a fence being constructed by his slaves.
“They are as wealthy as any people in the East for that time. They had plantations, slaves, mansions,” he said. “I’ve never seen that image (on film) before, and I think those are the kinds of things that make people say, ‘Wow.’”
What I don't see is how he squares the job with this quote: "I don’t see the value in films that show the past. They all end the same way—the Indians die."
Oh, well. I guess "the value in films that show the past" is that they pay the rent.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.