September 13, 2008

Oneida produces documentaries

Emmy-nominated producer tells Native storiesDanforth’s production career has already gotten off to a great start. She was nominated for an Emmy in 2005 for her film “The Oneida Speak,” a short film based on handwritten journals from elders of the Oneidas of Wisconsin who participated in a federal writing project during the Great Depression. Danforth has expanded it into an hour-long documentary that will distributed by National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) starting Feb. 17.

The film was a personal reflection and educational project for Danforth, who poured over translations of nearly 800 steno books and ledgers written in Oneida in the 1930s-40s. The books were virtually forgotten until employees cleaning a space of a retired University of Wisconsin professor discovered them.

“Life was like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ back then,” said Danforth, citing the 1970s TV show. “And although things got really bad for the Oneida for awhile, we’ve always prevailed.”

Danforth is currently working with Frank Blythe and Syd Beane on a documentary about the Indian Civil Rights movement. The film will center around the National Indian Lutheran Board’s effect on that movement and how that translates into today.

This Summer, Danforth will be working with Patty Loew (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), University of Wisconsin professor and producer of “The Way of the Warrior,” on producing a film called “Sacred Stick.” The documentary will be about the importance of lacrosse in Native culture. Danforth got the idea at a lacrosse game while reading a brochure about the world lacrosse championships.

“I opened it up, and I was like wow! The Iroquois Nationals,” she said. “All of a sudden, at that moment, I was like--This has to be my next documentary.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

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