A November film series at Albany County Public Library aims to celebrate the cinematic accomplishments of Native American filmmakers and actors, starting with a screening this Sunday.
The Native American Heritage Month Film Series, co-sponsored by the Laramie Film Society and University of Wyoming Keepers of the Fire, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sundays in November in the public library’s large meeting room, 310 S. Eighth St. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.
The series opens with “This May Be the Last Time” on Sunday, followed by “Smoke Signals on Nov. 11, “Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock” on Nov. 18 and “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” on Nov. 25.
Tyler Brown, public services specialist at the library and the series organizer, said he’s been organizing a film series for several years and wanted to branch out from the international line-ups he’s done in the past. This time, he chose films that showcased Native American cinematic talent.
“One of the specific things I tried to do was get films that were produced, directed, written, filmed and star Natives,” he said.
“This May Be the Last Time,” directed by Sterlin Harjo, is a documentary film that premiered in 2014. The film explores an incident in 1962 when Harjo’s grandfather went missing after a car accident on a bridge in rural Oklahoma.
Members of the Seminole and Muscogee tribes helped with the search while using music passed down through generations, including music from Scottish and African-American traditions, for support and healing.
“Smoke Signals,” released in 1998, is based on short stories by Native American writer Sherman Alexie. The film follows two boys growing up on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho and features an all-Native American production crew.
“Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock,” was released in 2017 and tells the story of the Native-led protest at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota regarding the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.
The 1,200-mile pipeline carries oil from northwest North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois, and its construction sparked concern about drinking water contamination on tribal land and in the Missouri River.
Brown said he chose the film, directed by Myron Dewey, as a way to depict a Native point of view regarding the controversial situation.
“I want to present the perspectives and what they think without putting any kind of spin on it,” he said.
“Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is the film adaptation of a novel by the same name that has been playing in theaters around the country since 2017, including in Laramie this week. Directed by Steven Lewis Simpson, the film stars David Bald Eagle, who died at the age of 97 before the film was released.
Bald Eagle, born in a tipi in 1919, was the grandson of the man suspected to have killed General Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. He served as a paratrooper during World War II and was left for dead behind enemy lines on D-Day, finally rescued by British commandos.
Brown said he hopes the films in the series will help audiences learn about Native American culture.
“I want people to be able to connect with other cultures, broaden their own perspectives and maybe create some empathy with people who are different,” he said.