Silent-Era Southwest--Are you in the mood for some serious New Mexico film history? The New Mexico State Archives and the New Mexico Film Museum have announced a special screening of films made by Sallie Wagner. Wagner was a Santa Fe Living Treasure, author, anthropologist, activist and philanthropist who passed away on Aug. 30 at the age of 93.
Sallie Wagner and her former husband bought the Wide Ruins Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona in 1939 and lived there until the early ’50s. Wagner, who studied Anthropology at the University of Chicago, kept a 16mm movie camera loaded with Kodachrome film in her saddle bag and recorded scenes of daily life during her time at the trading post. As one of the earliest non-Indian residents on the reservation, she felt an obligation to document the lifeways and material culture of the Navajo people that she came to know and love.
Originally screened in October 2005 after the films were preserved with a National Film Preservation Foundation grant awarded to the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, the program also includes home movies that 15-year-old Sallie Wagner shot on her first visit to the Southwest in 1928, as well as footage of the 1931 Santa Fe Fiesta and the SAR Archaeological Field School in the Jemez Mountains. The Wide Ruins era films were edited by Wagner and remain a remarkable record of daily life on the reservation shortly before the Second World War.
Sallie Wagner’s silent films will screen on Friday, Dec. 15, at the NM Film Museum (the former Jean Cocteau Cinema) in Santa Fe at 3 and 7 p.m. The total running time for the program is just under two hours. For more information, call the New Mexico State Archives at (505) 476-7948.