“To the victor belong the spoils,” as the saying goes, a justification for how the “winner” of a given conflict can and has created and controlled the historical narrative. That was true when a U.S. senator said it in 1832, and it’s mostly still true now. From the classroom to the boardroom to the big screen, the narrative on Indigenous cultures has been more or less filtered through the lens of non-Natives.
Indian Country has been trying to change that, individually and collectively, and to the benefit of both Indigenous and non-Native audiences.
“What is happening in the U.S. today—and I hope One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival is part of this—is not only are non-Native audiences able to view their neighbor in the truest light, they’re also able to go and meet their neighbors,” says OHNAFF board member Julia Keefe (Nez Perce).
Our conversation takes place on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which several states and cities have recognized since the ‘90s as a way to contextualize Columbus Day, and which President Joe Biden officially acknowledged—the first U.S. President to do so.
Keefe has just returned on the redeye from New York City, where she makes a living as a jazz singer. Her career includes opening for Grammy Award winners Esperanza Spalding and Tony Bennett, and bringing to life the narrative of Mildred Bailey (Coeur d’Alene), a jazz singer and contemporary of Bing Crosby.
Keefe is lending her voice to OHNAFF’s 2021 showcase of Indigenous talent both literally and figuratively. On October 12, Keefe will perform with her quartet at the Cracker Building, followed by D’DAT and Micah Paul Hinson, for a donation-only event, catered by Inland Pacific Kitchen. Masks are required at all events.
On October 13, OHNAFF is having its first-ever poetry slam at CMTV featuring (so far) five poets, with open mic time for interested audience members. The free event is hosted by Twahan Simultaneous and features poet, actress, and activist Marina Lotus. It will also be livestreamed via Facebook.
Hinson and Warren Realrider will perform for free on Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, including some of Hinson’s music from this year’s featured film, Sterlin Harjo’s Love and Fury.
Harjo headlined the OHNAFF in 2018, went on to produce the acclaimed, all-Indigenous TV series Reservation Dogs with Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi; the show premiered on FX/Hulu earlier this year.
Of his 93-minute documentary-style Love and Fury, which will run at Magic Lantern Oct. 15-16, Harjo states: “The film is a conversation that I’ve wanted to have for a long time. Native art has been shackled to history by a false vision of what Native people are through the settler gaze of our current reality. I wanted to make something bold and in your face, directly putting up a finger to the shackles of the art world and historic representation of our people. We are diverse, we are dark, we are beautiful and so is our artwork.”
Tickets to Love and Fury are $9. Find out more at the One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival Facebook page. Here's a look at the film: