February 07, 2011

American Indian Film Gallery

Six Flicks from the American Indian Film GalleryThe online American Indian Film Gallery, a collection of vintage motion pictures that cover the Native American experience, has recently posted its 400th film. “I had all of these wonderful historical movies, and nobody ever made a documentary using the footage,” said founder and curator J. Fred MacDonald. “So I put it all online for free. These are historical documents, for good or bad. They have to be collected and made available for people to understand history.” MacDonald commented on some of his favorites.

1) Before the White Man Came: “This is a unique feature film, a Western starring only Crow and Northern Cheyenne actors. Filmed in Montana in 1918, it tells the story of a young couple from rival tribes.”

2) “Maria Tallchief Dances”: “Here are segments from the Pabst Christmas Special that aired on CBS television network on Christmas eve in 1952.”

3) “El Navajo”: “The Santa Fe Railroad made several promotional films in the 1940s and 1950s intended to attract tourists to come to Indian country in New Mexico and Arizona—an area served by Santa Fe. ‘El Navajo’ is the best of the Santa Fe movies.”

4) “Injun Talk”: “Despite its derogatory title, this is an informative film that explores the sign language employed by plains Indians in earlier times.”

5) “Always Kickin’”: “This is a short comedy from 1932 in which Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox), the greatest athlete of the 20th century, plays an important speaking role.”

6) “Golden State Gourd Society”: “These news outtakes are from a Los Angeles TV report on off-reservation Indians who gather regularly to renew friendships as well as sing and dance, particularly the Gourd Dance derived from the Kiowas of Oklahoma.”
Comment:  Before the White Man Came seems to have aced out Moonhair as the first American feature film with an all-Native cast. I suspect there are other contenders too.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies and Native Documentaries and News.

No comments: