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Through Navajo Eyes - Rethinking the Archive


Produced by Sol Worth and John Adair
1966 | 60 mins | USA (Navajo Nation)

In 1966, seven Navajo from Pine Springs, Arizona picked up movie cameras and created short silent films about their worlds, part of an innovative project created to see whether their films would look distinctly Navajo. While prints were left with the filmmakers, the films circulated primarily in academic circles. In October 2011, archivists from the University of Pennsylvania and the Navajo Nation Museum held a public screening at the Navajo Nation Museum.

This program includes a special screening of two of the seven films:

The Spirit of Navajos
Maxine and Mary Jane Tsosie
1966 | 17 mins | Black and White | Silent
The Spirit of Navajos focuses on the directors’ grandfather, Sam Yazzie, a famous “singer” (medicine man).

Intrepid Shadows
Alfred Clah
1966 | 18 mins | Black and White | Silent
This remarkable film depicts a Navajo landscape in cosmological terms, through the eyes of an imagined Yeibichai figure.

The screenings will be followed by a discussion about these films, their history, and the exciting contemporary process of restoring them to the Navajo Nation. Panelists include: Richard Chalfen, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, Temple University; Teresa Montoya NYU Anthropology; Mark Deschinny, Navajo Weaving Tool Master Craftsman and Community Educator; and Kate Pourshariati, Archivist, University of Pennsylvania Museum. The panel will be moderated by Elizabeth Weatherford, Head, Film and Video Center, National Museum of the American Indian.

Film prints courtesy of Visionmaker

Co-presented by Film and Video Center, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Center for Media, Culture, and History, NYU

Through Navajo Eyes: Rethinking the Archive is a MEAD DIALOGUE