Series hosts Native American double feature

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“Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian” from Vision Maker Media tells the story of Ohiyesa, or Charles Eastman, who was a Dakota Indian born in 1858, who was a small child when his people were removed from their aboriginal home in Minnesota, the Dakotas' forced “Trail of Tears."

The final presentation in The Idaho Mythweaver Native Heritage Film Series for 2018-2019 will be a double feature of two documentaries — “Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian” from Vision Maker Media, and “Of One Heart,” a short film about the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce people produced by the National Park Service.

Ohiyesa, or Charles Eastman, was a Dakota Indian born in 1858, raised traditionally until age 15, and a small child when his people were removed from their aboriginal home in Minnesota, the Dakotas’ forced “Trail of Tears”. Ohiyesa and his grandmother survived where many did not.

After being sent to boarding schools and taught to assimilate into white society, as Charles Eastman, he found a way to use the skills of his education by writing many books about the Indian people and their way of life and their philosophy on nature and the wild. An author of international renown, he was one of the first Natives to attend Dartmouth College and at Boston College Medical School where he became one of two Native American physicians in the country at the time. Eastman was also an Indian rights activist and popular speaker.

This hour-long new film traces Ohiyesa’s remarkable life of accomplishments in the white world, while maintaining his traditional ways. It is examined through the lens, and historical research documenting his legacy by his granddaughter, Kate Beane, an urban Dakota and tribal scholar, who goes on to complete her doctorate degree, and then tries to determine what the overall Dakota legacy will be. Although only briefly alluded to in the film, the largest execution in the United States occurred in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln ordered 38 Dakota to be hung together for fighting back and killing white settlers who were encroaching on Dakota lands. The mass execution took place in the town square of Mankato, Minnesota.

The second documentary film to screen is a 2014 short about the Nez Perce Tribe, or Nimiipuu, called “Of One Heart.” It is 24 minutes long, provided by the Nez Perce National Historical Park, and features many of the elders that The Idaho Mythweaver has worked with over the past 30 years in its public radio productions. Diane Mallickan, Mythweaver board president, is one of the elders featured in the film.

Of One Heart introduces the Nimiipuu’s rich heritage and their strong relationship with the Creator and their aboriginal homelands found in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Nimiipuu still live on lands their ancestors always called home. The film shares perspectives of a people whose contemporary way of life is firmly rooted in tribal traditions and the land and waters they inhabit, and the salmon and wildlife that they rely on to survive and thrive as a people for generations to come. As Nez Perce language teacher, Angel Sobotta, says; “Our history is long, and is still being written every day.”

Both films will screen twice, and free to the public, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. on November 10 in the Library’s expanded Rude Girls meeting room, 1407 Cedar Street. Jane Fritz will lead a discussion about both films, but focusing on the Nez Perce documentary since she worked with the Nimiipuu for 13 years from 1989 through 2003.

Funding for the Idaho Mythweaver Native Heritage Series is provided by TransEco Services and the Bonner County Human Rights Fund of the Idaho Community Foundation, and is shown in cooperation with the East Bonner County Library District and Vision Maker Media, a Native American media organization.

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