My pal Victor and I arrived in Las Vegas Tuesday around dinner time. We got some sleep and had a leisurely Wednesday morning--mainly because the RES 2011 trade floor didn't open until the odd hour of 5 pm.
In the afternoon we went over to the Las Vegas Hilton and set up the Pechanga.net booth. On the way out we saw something happening in a side room and went in to see what it was. It turned out to be RES 2011's "entertainment as a business" panel.
On the stage were Chris Eyre, Georgina Lightning, Michelle Shining Elk, Gyasi Ross, and Sonny Skyhawk--all of whom I've mentioned before. Moderating was the ubiquitous Litefoot. The panelists said the usual things: Hollywood doesn't want to tell Native stories, so Natives have to tell their own.
After a kerfluffle about whether Eyre was supposed to be there, we retired to the Hilton's Tempo bar (minus Gyasi Ross, plus Randy Bardwell, president of Native Threads). I had my first real conservation with Skyhawk, who said he reads Newspaper Rock and agrees with 99% of it. In particular, he agreed that Johnny Depp shouldn't play Tonto and claimed Depp isn't part Cherokee. He also recalled disparaging blog comments by Kiowa writer Russell Bates and praised me for being a neutral and fair-minded voice in Indian country.
Anyway, we schmoozed for an hour, then Victor headed back to our hotel while I manned the booth from 5 pm to 7 pm. Then I returned to the hotel, where Victor and I were summoned to a cocktail party in Skyhawk's hotel suite. The whole bar group was there along with music entrepreneur Ben-Alex Dupris and erstwhile Native Voice publisher Frank King.
I was surprised to hear that Dupris and Chris Eyre are regular Newspaper Rock readers also. Eyre praised me for tackling subjects that nobody in Indian country wants to touch. That's easy to do because I'm an outsider with nothing to lose. But their kind words were flattering--worth remembering the next time somebody slams me for not being an Indian.
Even more flattering was Dupris's guess that I'm around 40 years old. Nice try, dude, but you missed by at least a decade. In fact, I was the oldest person there except for Skyhawk and his wife. Respect your elders, Indians!
For more on the Native movie business, see:
Red Man Films heads to Italy
2010 Oscar nominations are lily-white
Any change since Dances with Wolves?
"Bottom line" argument is racist
Audiences more openminded than Hollywood