IAIA Student Films, RAs Recognized Nationally

Feb 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 20-3: Tribal Athletes Fight for Their Place, Tribal College News

In 2008 more than 15 Native American students from all over the country participated in the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Summer Television and Film Workshop. At the campus in Santa Fe, NM, they spent long days and nights producing, directing, and editing short films.

The hard work paid off for three of the participants, whose creations were shown in November 2008 at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, CA. Presented by the American Indian Film Institute, the festival is the nation’s most prominent outlet for Native American films. The film festival premiered over 80 new feature films, shorts, music videos, and documentaries from American Indian and Canada First Nation communities.

The films selected from IAIA included:

  • Lumbini Park – Directed by Eve Little Shell LaFountain (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), this film’s story investigates loss, fear, and hope that can be found in unexpected ways.
  • The Hand Drum – Directed by Stephanie Painter (Washoe/Shoshone/Oneida), The Hand Drum follows the escapades of a young Native man as he tries to get the girl of his dreams the traditional way – through the songs of the American Indian hand drum.
  • Nizhoni – Directed by Annikka Frostad Thomas-Kenaitze (Dena’ina Athabascan), Nizhoni is a film based on actual events. A troubled young woman looks to a traditional medicine man for help, only to get ripped off, but later finds help from someone unexpected.

IAIA holds the summer television and film workshop in collaboration with Disney ABC Television Group each year. IAIA New Media Arts Department oversees the program each year.

In other IAIA news, three IAIA resident assistants (RAs) attended their first RAppin’ Conference, hosted by the Association of Intermountain Housing Officers (AIMHO), in Grand Junction, CO, in October. The team was composed of Yura Nordvold (Cheyenne River Sioux), Nick Begay (Diné), and Kit Julianto (Shoshone Paiute), accompanied by IAIA Housing Support Specialist R.J. Martinez (Santa Clara Pueblo). The RAppin’ Conference was organized to provide opportunities for networking between college resident assistants from eight states in the United States and Saskatchewan.

The IAIA group received the top score out of the 38 college teams in a special competition with their presentation on traditional games. As a result, the IAIA team was invited to attend the annual conference in Greeley, CO, in November.

Martinez says, “College brings people together from different places, different back grounds, to form one school.  It is up to us RA’s to help unite them as a community. At IAIA, we start off with a game that everyone can play. ‘Traditional Games’ is a program developed by IAIA students and staff from different tribes. We use a hand drum and traditional songs to do round dances and round dancing games to help promote closeness, build a sense of trust, and most importantly to have fun.”  He believes the IAIA group won by getting everyone at the conference into a big circle and having them participate in games and dance.

For more information about the films or about IAIA’s New Media Arts Department, email Shawna Begay at sbegay@iaia.edu or call (505) 424-5716. For information about IAIA, see www.iaia.edu. For information on the housing support program, contact Richard Martinez, housing support specialist, or IAIA Housing Director Carol Reed at (505) 424-2380 or creed@iaia.edu.

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