National Museum of the American Indian Recognizes the International Year of Indigenous Languages and Stories of Women

Adeana Young plays Hlaaya in Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s Film Sgaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife. Photo credit Niijang Xyaalas Productions. Copyright Isuma Distribution International. / courtesy of and copyright of Smithsonian

“There’s no longer a need to make films with the intention of creating work that’s palatable to the mainstream; audiences are meeting the filmmakers where they are, and the Native Cinema Showcase is the museum’s way of supporting this effort.” Kevin Grover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents the 19th annual Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Aug. 13–18. In this year’s installment, nearly all of the films were made by Native filmmakers; more than half were made by women, including the opening and closing films. This year’s event includes 53 films from 11 countries, representing nearly 40 Indigenous groups.

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’re likely have to link to the site to view this The Edge of Knife film trailer.

In an affirmation of the power of self-representation, and in recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the lineup includes films such as SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), the first feature-length film to be spoken entirely in the Haida language, and Wiñaypacha (Eternity), the first feature-length film shot entirely in the Aymara language. The showcase includes dialogue and narration in 20 Indigenous languages.

“More and more, Native filmmakers are able to use their medium to assert Indigenous identities on their own terms,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “There’s no longer a need to make films with the intention of creating work that’s palatable to the mainstream; audiences are meeting the filmmakers where they are, and the Native Cinema Showcase is the museum’s way of supporting this effort.”

The showcase begins and ends with portraits of strong women. Tuesday evening’s feature film, Warrior Women, shows the role of women in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s from a female perspective. The closing film, Vai, incorporates languages of Oceania as it follows the journey of one woman across eight Indigenous communities throughout the Pacific Islands. Saturday’s family-friendly feature, Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, brings together Disney princesses including Pocahontas as they question the stereotypical roles they fell into during past film appearances.

The showcase runs in conjunction with the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest juried show of Native fine art in the world. The majority of the films will be screened at the New Mexico History Museum, and Ralph Breaks the Internet will screen outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. All screenings are free, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other highlights include an appearance by Pulitzer prize-winning writer N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), who will make remarks before the screening of the biographical film N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear Thursday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. A “State of the Arts” talk is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m. and will feature Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary.

N. Scott Momaday (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from U.S. president George W. Bush in 2007 /photo courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts / Public Domain

Navarre Scott Momaday (born February 27, 1934) is a Kiowa novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His novel House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, and is considered the first major work of the Native American Renaissance. His follow-up work The Way to Rainy Mountain blended folklore with memoir. Momaday received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 for his work’s celebration and preservation of indigenous oral and art tradition. He holds twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the Gods
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to everything that is beautiful…
You see, I am alive, I am alive”

Navarre Scott Momaday, excerpt from The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee

Showcase Schedule

Tuesday, Aug. 13

7 p.m.: Warrior Women (USA, 2018, 64 min.)

Followed by a discussion with activist Marcella Gilbert (Lakota and Dakota /Cheyenne River Lakota Nation) and directors Christina D. King (Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma) and Elizabeth A. Castle.

Wednesday, Aug. 14

1 p.m.: Wiñaypacha (Eternity) (Peru, 2017, 87 min.)

3 p.m.: The Blessing (USA, 2018, 74 min.)

Followed by a discussion with directors Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein and producer Laura Ball.

7 p.m.: Falls Around Her (Canada, 2018, 98 min.)

Thursday, Aug. 15

1 p.m.: Angelique’s Isle (Canada, 2018, 90min.) preceded by Ara Marumaru (The Shadow) (New Zealand, 2018, 8 min.)

3 p.m.: “The Land Speaks” shorts program (86 min. total)

Seven short films emphasize Native knowledge of the environment and the look into its future.

7 p.m.: N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear (USA, 2018, 85 min.)

Friday, Aug. 16

1 p.m.: “Future Focused” shorts program (55 min. total)

This program features films that present innovative stories from First Nations and U.S. Native communities.

3 p.m.: “State of the Art” conversation with Preston Singletary

7 p.m.: SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife) (Canada, 2018, 100 min.) preceded by Mahiganiec

(Baby Wolf) (Canada, 2017, 5 min.)

Followed by a discussion with filmmaker Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida) and musician and composer Kinnie Starr (Mohawk)

Saturday, Aug. 17

1 p.m.: Lensic Future Voices (90 min. total)

This program includes a selection of films by student filmmakers. Presented in collaboration with Lensic Performing Arts Center and Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Introduced by Marcella Ernest (Bad River Band of Chippewa), Project Director, Lensic Future Voices.

3 p.m.: Our Stories Shorts (86 min. total)

This program reflects the best of Native storytelling as told through family history, language and tradition, often with a dose of Native humor.

8 p.m.: Ralph Breaks the Internet, screened outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park Screen.

Sunday, Aug. 18

1 p.m.: Rise Above Shorts (86 min. total)

The realities of rising above adversity, loving oneself and the journey of learning life’s lessons is the focus of this program.

3 p.m: Vai (New Zealand, 2018, 90 min.) preceded by Katatjatuuk Kangirsumi/Throat Singing in  

Kangirsuk (Canada, 2018, 3 min.) and Pire (Argentina, 2018, 3 min.)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

In partnership with Native peoples and their allies, the National Museum of the American Indian fosters a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. The museum strives toward equity and social justice for the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere through education, inspiration and empowerment. Through two locations, it features exhibitions and programs in New York City and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where additional information will be available at #NativeCinemaShowcase.

About the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts

SWAIA’s ( mission is to bring Native arts to the world by inspiring artistic excellence, fostering education and creating meaningful partnerships. The 98th annual Santa Fe Indian Market will display the work of more than 1,100 artists from 100 tribes in more than 1,000 booths over a two-day period.

About the New Mexico History Museum

Opened in May 2009 as the state system’s newest museum, the New Mexico History Museum is attached to the Palace of the Governors National Historic Landmark, a distinctive emblem of U.S. history and the original seat of New Mexico government. The museum presents exhibitions and public programs that interpret historical events and reflect on the wide range of New Mexico historical experiences. It is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is located at 113 Lincoln Ave. in Santa Fe.

The content of this post is courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, The Southwestern Association of Indian Arts, the New Mexico History Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts, imbd and Wikipedia.


Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)(July 2019)
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review (July 2019)
Upcoming in digital publications:
* The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice (August 2019)

A busy though bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Levure littéraireRamingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, HerStry, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander CoveI Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, Woven Tale PressThe Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual literary community and publisher of The BeZine of which I am the founding and managing editor. Among others, I’ve been featured on The MethoBlog, on the Plumb Tree’s Wednesday Poet’s Corner, and several times as Second Light Live featured poet.

Email me at for permissions, reprint rights, or comissions.

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

ONE WOBBLIE’S LIFE … Joe Hill, labor activist and songwriter

Joe Hill (1879-1915), born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Swedish-American labor activist, song writer, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the "Wobblies")

Joe Hill (1879-1915), born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Swedish-American labor activist, song writer, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”)



Hill wrote "The Rebel Girl," which was inspired by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn , founder of the American Civil Liberties Union

Hill wrote “The Rebel Girl,” which was inspired by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn , founder of the American Civil Liberties Union

Music – the sister art to poetry – is always an engaging subject and labor rights and history are – or should be –  of serious interest for those of us in the 99%. Hence what a delight to learn that HamiltonSeen, a Canadian film production company, is in the process of exploring the life, work and relevance of Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter, Joe Hill.  In this interview, Zena Hagerty, producer and musician, explains …

JAMIE: How did the project Who Was Joe Hill get started?

ZENA: After finishing our film Harperman: A Dissident Serenade (releasing online in September), we felt  strongly about showcasing the strength that music has in protest and in political movements. There is a power in voices that rise together. Joe Hill was an early American musical hero who brought about real change in the Union Movement and who died under terrible and strange circumstances in front of a firing squad.

JAMIE: How many shows and what kind of content? Why should people be interested and how is Joe Hill’s life and work relevant to our times?

ZENA: We’re going to be creating twelve episodes that explore who Joe was, what shines forward to today from his life, his music, and his legacy, and we’re going to take a hard look at whether many of the same battles for freedom that were being fought in his time are still being fought today. The plan is to speak to the musicians who carry forward his spirit and use their thoughts and words to draw a picture of now through the lens of Joe Hill.

JAMIE: What do you hope to accomplish?

ZENA: Our mission (yes, it’s that important) with every film or series is to shed illumination from a new perspective on a topic that points to the very heart of who we are as human beings. Now, that sounds intense, but what it really means is that in our work we seek to find the emotional core, to enable viewers to connect to the importance of the subject matter.

JAMIE: When is the release scheduled?

ZENA: Our release schedule is very dependent on budget at this point, with a goal of series’ completion by second quarter of 2017. It should be sold for television by that point. We’d love to see it as a weekly series over three months with an online or Netflix release to follow.

If you are reading this post from email and want to view this trailer, you’ll probably have to link through to the site to do so.

Producer Zena Hagerty
has a long history of community engagement and involvement in the arts scenes of Hamilton and San Francisco and seeks to further strengthen the human spirit with her work. Zena has broad experience in media, including recording albums, performing her own music, radio broadcasting, graphic design, and many others. As director of Sublimatus as a band, an art gallery, and an entity that inspires the creative spirit within all, Zena honed a skillset that includes the ability to drive and complete large projects with expansive intentions.

Director Cody Lanktree is most inspired by dialogue created by the connection between time, beauty, and our personal truths. In the six years since HamiltonSeen’s inception, Cody has guided the company from small commercial production to whiteboxing partnerships with major marketing firms, and finally to the creation of documentaries focused on community and social issues. His vision is one that will not stop at less than fundamentally changing and challenging perspectives and the world.

Jessica Sovie is a journalism student at Mohawk College and intern with HamiltonSeen. As the project lead for The Soapbox, Jessica provides direction, insight, camera operation, and editing skills that are creating a platform for the voice of the public. She is a purebred eccentric, supporter of music and of the arts, and aims to be a champion of the underdog and underrepresented through the use and continuous growth of her skillset.

Photo credits: Joe Hill’s photograph,”The Rebel Girl,” Joe Hill’s signature and death certificate are in public domain; Zena Hagerty’s photograph is hers and under copyright.