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Zuni Film and Events at the 2013 Mead Festival

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Nearly a century after Museum anthropologists first recorded a sacred ceremony of the Zuni tribe, a rare archival film is getting its second life in a special program presented at this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival.

setting_the_record_straight

Octavius Seowtewa, who recorded voice-over for the film in April, will take part in the event.


Through a groundbreaking collaboration between the Museum’s Cultural Resources Office, Museum archivists and anthropologists, and the Zuni A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, the 1923 silent film The Shalako Ceremony at Zuni, New Mexico, has been updated with Zuni subtitles and narration.

The never-before-seen film will be shown in a special program called “Setting the Record Straight” on Saturday, October 19, at 1 pm, in the Leonhardt People Center on the Museum’s second floor. The screening will be followed by a lively Mead Dialogue moderated by Jim Enote, director of A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, about the history of Museum anthropology, the repercussions of filming sacred ceremonies of the Zuni, and the recent collaborative effort to repurpose archival film within a contemporary context. Enote will also lead a tour of the exhibition The Zuni World (see below). 

Panelists will include Curator Peter Whiteley, Museum archivist Barbara Mathe, and Curtis Quam and Octavius Seowtewa from Zuni.

In a related event earlier that day, internationally renowned Zuni flute player, singer, and recording artist Fernando Cellecion will perform a series of songs from the Zuni pueblo in the Hall of the Birds of the World. This performance is free with any 2013 Mead Film Festival ticket stub. “Setting the Record Straight” is a ticketed event.

Zuni artworks will also be on display at the Museum starting Thursday, October 17, in The Zuni World exhibition. For a limited time, see modern Zuni paintings depicting ancestral sites throughout the Colorado Plateau. Part of an “indigenous mapping” movement that has become increasingly important over the last 20 years, the paintings were created by 14 Zuni artists in collaboration with Zuni cultural advisors and produced in partnership with the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center (AAMHC) in Zuni, New Mexico.

Ronnie Cachini Zuni painting Our Land

This richly colored painting of the Zuni reservation’s well-known landmarks exemplifies the partitioning style of Zuni map art. This is also the only piece in the collection with representations of modern roads. Even though the roads are unmarked practically any Zuni can identify them. 

Ronnie Cachini/ Ho’n A:wan Dehwa:we/(Our Land)/ Acrylic on Canvas, 2006


Learn more about the 2013 Mead Film Festival, which opens on Thursday, October 17. 

Watch the Mead trailer.


A version of this article appears in the Fall 2013 Rotunda, the Member magazine. 

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