African and Native American Hearts Beat in Rhythm
All Drums film festival at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
By Devin D. O’Leary
The thing about Black history is that it’s not just Black history. Africans and the African Diaspora have interacted with and had an influence on every culture and country on Earth. The history of Black people is also the history of America, inextricably linked through good times and bad since before our nation was a nation.
A special, day-long collaboration between the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) is slated to acknowledge some of these inseparable cross-cultural links. All Drums: A Celebration of African and Native American Film & Culture will be devoted specifically to the intersection of African-American and Native American history, culture and media. The IPCC is already running a Buffalo Soldiers exhibit in celebration of Black History Month, tracing the history of African-American Cavalry Regiments employed by the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. On Friday, Feb. 1, the Cultural Center will add to that by hosting the all-day All Drums film festival.
Starting at 10 a.m., there will be a processional celebration led by Spirit Wind and African-American drummers. Afterward, Dr. Harold Bailey, executive director for the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs, and Ron Solimon, president/CEO for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, will team up for a welcoming address. The first film screening is at 10:30 a.m., Steven Heape and Chip Richie’s “Black Indians: An American Story.” This 60-minute documentary presents the rarely told account of the racial fusion between Native and African-Americans, beginning with the presence of the mixed-race Boston Massacre martyr Crispus Attucks and moving upward through history.
From 11:30 a.m. to noon there will be live storytelling from renowned Santa Ana and Jemez Pueblo storytellers. At noon, “American Red & Black: Stories of Afro-Native Identity” screens. This 39-minute film from Alicia Woods follows six Afro-Native Americans from around the U.S. as they reflect on issues of heritage, ethnic identity and racism. This is followed by a panel discussion with several writers, producers and filmmakers on “Identity: Red & Black Interconnectedness in Film.”
Screenings pick up again at 1:30 p.m. with “Singing Our Stories,” Annie Fraziér Henry’s lively look at the musical roots of aboriginal women across North America.
Though only seven minutes long, S. Pearl Sharp’s “Picking Tribes” is a heartfelt and often hilarious glimpse at a girl growing up in the ’40s while struggling to choose between her African-American and Native American heritages. It starts at 2:30 p.m.
The final film screening of the day takes place at 2:45 p.m. Chuck Cranston’s 42-minute film “Through Martha’s Eyes” is a dramatization of a true story about a young African-American woman in 1856 Kansas who is sold into slavery to Rev. Thomas Johnson, leader of the Shawnee Mission School.
Admission to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center will run you $1. There is no additional cost to attend the All Drums festival. The IPCC is located at 2401 12th Street NW. For more info, log on to www.indianpueblo.org.
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