WESTERN LANDS, WESTERN VOICES:
The American West Center at Fifty
A Symposium on Public Engagement in the Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
September 19-21, 2014
The tale of European settlement of North America has been told countless times, but not from the perspective of the land's original inhabitants. Now, PBS's acclaimed history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, in association with Native American Public Telecommunications, is changing that with a groundbreaking mini-series and compelling multi-media project that, for the first time, tells the incredible Native American story through Native American eyes.
Five 90-minute documentaries spanning 300 years tell the story of pivotal moments
in U.S. history from the Native American perspective. "We Shall Remain" premieres
on KUED-Channel 7 Monday, April 13, at 8 p.m., and runs for five consecutive Monday
evenings through May 11.
KUED was selected to be the pilot PBS station to develop a massive production/outreach project in conjunction with the national series. The centerpiece of the KUED project consists of five companion half-hour documentaries, each focusing on one of Utah's five tribes. The documentaries, which will be paired with the national series, air at the end of each "We Shall Remain" episode. "This project marks the culmination of three years of planning with more than 20 community partners," says Mary Dickson, KUED director of Creative Services. "It is the largest diversity project ever undertaken by KUED."
To extend the reach of the KUED productions, the Utah State Legislature allocated funds through the Utah Division of Indian Affairs in the Utah Department of Community and Culture to provide the KUED documentaries and a companion curriculum guide to each public school and library in the state.
The long-awaited AMERICAN EXPERIENCE series, "We Shall Remain," narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, focuses on important historical events, telling five, sometimes heartbreaking but always inspiring, and little-known stories.
They were charismatic and forward thinking, imaginative and courageous, compassionate and resolute, and, at times, arrogant, vengeful and reckless. For hundreds of years, Native American leaders from Massasoit, Tecumseh, and Tenskwatawa, to Major Ridge, Geronimo, and Fools Crow, valiantly resisted expulsion from their lands and fought the extinction of their culture. Sometimes, their strategies were militaristic, but more often they were diplomatic, spiritual, legal, and political.
The series begins in the 1600s with the Wampanoags, who used their alliance with the English in Southern New England, and ends with the bold new leaders of the 1970s, who harnessed the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement to forge a pan-Indian identity. We Shall Remain upends two-dimensional stereotypes of American Indians as simply ferocious warriors or peaceable lovers of the land.
"You can't understand America in the 21st century if you don't understand the Native experience," says Chris Eyre, director of the first three episodes, who has been involved with the series from its outset and was director of "Smoke Signals." "What connects these five films is the resolve of their characters. This country is founded on people striving, being tenacious and moving forward ... this is a look at that, through Native eyes."
After the Mayflower (April 13) begins in New England in the 1620s, at the time of the so-called "first Thanksgiving." In March of 1621, Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag, negotiated a diplomatic alliance with a scraggly band of English settlers for the benefit of his people. It was a gamble that paid off for several decades, as Indians and colonists coexisted in relative peace. A half-century later, as a brutal war flared between the English colonists and a confederation of New England Indians, the wisdom of Massasoit's choice seemed less clear.
Tecumseh's Vision (April 20) tells the story of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet. In the years following the American Revolution, the Prophet led a spiritual revival movement that drew thousands of followers from tribes across the Midwest. His brother forged a pan-Indian political and military alliance from that movement, coming closer than anyone since to creating an independent Indian state.
Trail of Tears (April 27) explores the resolve and resilience of the Cherokee Nation, who resisted removal from their homelands in the Southeast in every way they knew: assimilating, adopting a European-style government and legal system, accepting Christianity, and even taking their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Geronimo (May 4) takes place at the end of the Indian Wars, near the close of the nineteenth century. Here, desperate times catapulted a controversial character to the leadership of an Apache band. To angry whites, Geronimo was an archenemy, the perpetrator of unspeakable savage cruelties. To some Apaches, he was a stubborn troublemaker whose actions needlessly brought the enemy's wrath upon them. To his supporters, he remained the embodiment of proud resistance, leading the last Native American fighting force to surrender to the United States government.
Wounded Knee (May 11), which premiered at Sundance, tells the gripping story of the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee, examining the broad political and economic forces that led to the emergence of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1960s. For 71 days, activists engaged in a standoff with the U.S. government, bringing the nation's attention to the desperate conditions on Indian reservations. Perhaps even more important, the siege united Native people across tribes, creating a pan-Indian identity and a new path into the future.
The five-part documentary series is the product of a tremendous collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers, advisors, historians, and community leaders, placing Indian voices at the heart of the series. The creative forces behind We Shall Remain include: Emmy Award-winner Ric Burns, director, producer and writer; Emmy Award-winner Stanley Nelson, producer, director; Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), producer, writer, and director; Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), director; Sharon Grimberg, executive producer; Michael Greyeyes (Cree), actor (Skinwalkers, Smoke Signals); and Mark Samels, executive producer, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE; Wes Studi (Cherokee), actor (Dances with Wolves); and Mark Zwonitzer, producer and writer (Walt Whitman).
Long before Spanish Conquistadors crossed the landscape, before trappers followed the rivers and streams, before pioneering settlements dotted this region, before anyone else would try to write their history, five principle nations of indigenous people called the Great Basin area -- now known as Utah -- their home. In conjunction with the landmark American Experience series, We Shall Remain, KUED steps into the extraordinary world of Utah's five tribes in five half-hour documentaries.
The documentaries will air at 9:30 p.m. on KUED, immediately following the broadcast of the national series, which airs Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m. beginning April 13. KUED is one of a few PBS stations in the country producing its own documentaries as companion pieces for the national series. The documentaries have been selected to air on PBS World, marking the first time that locally produced documentaries have been picked up for national broadcast on PBS World. The KUED "We Shall Remain" series, which provides a Native history of Utah, features documentaries on the Paiute, the Ute, the Navajo, the Goshute and the Northwestern Shoshone - giving tribal members the opportunity to tell about their very diverse cultures.
"For the first time in Utah television, American Indians are not the subject of reporting," says KUED Director of Production Ken Verdoia. "Instead, theirs are the leading voices, the pressing issues and the cultural celebrations that drive the series. It really is a fundamental shift in profiling the American Indian experience."
Forrest Cuch, director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, served as a contributing consultant and host of the KUED documentaries. "I am honored to be part of this wonderful project," he says. "The KUED crews have honored our people. The films capture the spirit of each tribe and bring home the painful memories, the joys and the difficult but promising future."
The documentaries will have a life far beyond broadcast, thanks to a grant from the State of Utah through the Division of Indian Affairs under the Department of Community and Culture. The grant enables KUED to make DVDs and an educational curriculum guide, developed by the American West Center, available to all 4th and 7th grades, as well as high schools in the state, and all public libraries.
We Shall Remain: The Paiute (April 13, 9:30 p.m.) Produced by Sally Shaum.
A thriving horticultural society, the Southern Paiute were a peaceful, foraging people whose social ties created a network that spread throughout the Western Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. But as different groups and cultures vied for control of the West, the once independent Paiute people faced unfulfilled promises, poverty, dependence and profound loss. Today, the five bands of Paiute -- Shivwits, Koosharem, Kanosh, Cedar and Indian Peaks -- unite to celebrate their restored status at an annual, inter-tribal gathering where youth have the opportunity to learn tribal cultures and traditions.
We Shall Remain: The Ute (April 20, 9:30 p.m.) Produced by Nancy Green.
For hundreds of years the Ute bartered or negotiated with outsiders in their territory, and fought when necessary. They maintained their homeland and hunting grounds, which ranged across the basin and plains that would one day become Utah and Colorado and into parts of Wyoming and New Mexico. Today, many work to keep their culture and their language alive, which presents particular challenges for the young people.
We Shall Remain: The Navajo (April 27, 9:30 p.m.) Produced by Jeff Elstad.
They call themselves Diné, "The People." To the rest of the world, they are known as Navajo. Dinétah, this homeland, is the largest reservation in the United States. KUED profiles a rich culture and recounts the survival of the Diné from their origins to their present status as a "nation within a nation" and their continuing push toward true sovereignty.
We Shall Remain: The Goshute (May 4, 9:30 p.m.) Produced by Carol Dalrymple.
The expanse of the Great Basin we now know as Western Utah and Northeastern Nevada is an area where most people cannot survive without outside assistance. It has always been home to the Shoshonne-Goship people -- The Goshutes, who today comprise two distinct sovereign nations - The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians Reservation and The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Indian Reservation. In the face of economic and environmental challenges, the Goshute's rich past gives this remarkable people fortitude.
We Shall Remain: The Northwestern Shoshone (May 11, 9:30 p.m.) Produced by Nancy Green.
It was the largest slaughter of American Indians in the western history of the United States. On January 29, 1863, from 250 to 500 Northwestern Shoshone camping by the Bear River lost their lives. In less than a day, centuries of tradition were wiped away. But the people did live on. Today the Northwestern Shoshone fight a new battle -- one to keep their traditional cultural practices and language alive.
Community Partners Present Activities, Events Related to "We Shall Remain"
A statewide coalition of more than 20 community partners, including museums, libraries, state agencies, universities and other organizations, has joined with KUED to expand the reach and impact of the "We Shall Remain" project. For a complete list of partners and activities, visit kued.org/weshallremain.
KUED's local productions are funded by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, Mel and Kerry Armstrong, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Lawrence T. Dee and Janet T. Dee Foundation and the R. Harold Burton Foundation. Distribution of the KUED series and curriculum guide to Utah public schools and libraries, funded by the State of Utah through the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, under the Utah Department of Community and Culture.
National funders include WGBH Boston, Native American Public Telecommunications, Liberty Mutual, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, Ford Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and Kalliopeia Foundation.
KUED WEB SITE
For more information on "We Shall Remain," including film clips, interview transcripts, footage on language and culture not included in the films, numerous high-resolution, downloadable photographs, community partner activities and events, curriculum details and resources, visit http://www.kued.org/productions/weshallremain