An estimated 700 people attended the 21 events of the fourth annual American Indian Film Festival arranged by the phenomenal Phil Lucas. Ironically attendance was impacted by the very issues that the festival was supposed to educate us about. For those who missed the events, the films will be available in our library.

Adrian Menstell worked long (until midnight) and hard to get the fabulous poster out on campus in the fastest time possible. Bart Becker got the poster out in the community. Bob Adams composed a great press release that got extensive coverage in the King County Journal, MSNBC, Native Times, and possible coverage on Kiro InColor. Thanks to KBCS for the public service announcements and the post-event features they are planning. Thanks to Terri Halsey, Martinique Coombs, Tracy Robbins and Vickye Luke-Yabuki for dealing with the ever-changing room logistics. Larry Boykin was right-on with providing the equipment. Jay Strevey gave fabulous support in the Carlson. Donna Meek (who attended many sessions), Scott Bessho, Louis Watanabe, Miranda Kato, Nancy Eichner, Denise Johnson, Mike Meyer, Sayumi Irey, Helen Taylor, Tammi Doyle, Rebecca Clark, Mike Hanson, Diane Harrison, and many more instructors who posted posters, brought their classes or gave extra credit. Major kudos to Carol McKee for managing the potluck. We couldn't have done it without Nora Lance who helped set up and recruited a fabulous contingent of international students to help. The many people who magically volunteer food and supplies included Judy Woo, Phil Lucas, Judith Paquette, Carol McKee, Cora Nixon, Akemi Matsumoto, Louis Watanabe, Nora Lance, Wendy Brault, Gloria Tacardon, Zandra Apple, Diane Douglas, Donna Meek, Justin Hart, Becky Turnbull, Shari Smelser, Mary Chambers, Robin Jeffers and more.

Thanks to our sponsors: the TRIO program, BCC Campus Activities Board, the Squaxin Tribe, the Muckleshoot Tribe, the Kirkland Performance Center, First Nations Student Club, and the BCC Foundation.

Thanks especially to Judy Woo who constantly keeps the faith.

The festival opened with the Snoqualmie Drum Group's performance and blessing. As is right, we express our gratitude to the Snoqualmie Tribe whose land the college sits on.
Frank Brown (Heiltsuk) was a Native youth headed for a juvenile detention center for brutally assaulting a man when trying to steal liquor. His uncle and aunt intervened and asked the judge to sentence him to the traditional Native punishment of banishment. He spent eight months alone on an island and credits the experience with changing his life. This was recorded in the Phil Lucas' film, Voyage of Rediscovery.

In 1986, Frank Brown revitalized the canoe journey (the first in 60 years) with the paddle to Vancouver's Expo 86. Subsequent journeys included the Paddle to Seattle in 1989 and the 1993 canoe to Bella Bella where 23 canoe families met and celebrated. He is currently an ecotourism entrepreneur. Frank's company SeeQuest Adventures was selected in 1999 as a "Best Case" example of sustainable tourism by Simon Fraser University's Tourism Policy and Research Centre.  Frank was nominated as one of the top 40 Canadians under 40 years of age by Canadian national media and he received an award for his work in the traditional canoe resurgence from the BC Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture and Heritage BC.

The film, Voyage of Rediscovery, is available at the LMC.

Willard Bill, Jr. (Muckleshoot) and Frank Brown spoke on the revival of the canoe culture in Pacific Northwest tribes. Willard Bill talked about the Muckleshoot Tribe which despite the successful economic development brought about by its ownership of the casino, amphitheatre and race track (all of which make the Muckleshoot a major employer in the South King County area), face opposition to any initiative they undertake. Willard said that even today, tribal members are denied service because of the way they look. Revival of culture and language is important to the Muckleshoot as there are only eight tribal members who are fluent in their language. The canoe journey has been a way for tribe members to find their culture again and to learn to work together. The Muckleshoot will be hosting this year's canoe journey which will land at Sand's Point in Seattle on July 31. Frank Brown talked about the discipline of the canoe journey and its effect on Native youth in helping them find their identity. He talked about the sharing between the tribes that has been brought about by the revival of the journey and how the canoe journey to Seattle took him to over twenty tribes.

The film, Pulling Together, about the Muckleshoot canoe journey of 2003 is available at the LMC.

Steve Brown, Shaun Peterson (Pullayup/Tulalip), Joe Gobin (Tulalip) and Jason Gobin (Tulalip). Shaun and Jason are both accomplished Salish artists who have participated in several Canoe Journeys, and have worked with the late Jerry Jones of Tulalip on canoes and related projects. Joe has participated in many canoe borne journeys and ceremonies, beginning when he worked with Jerry Jones on the first new Tulalip canoe for the Paddle to Seattle in 1989. Steve Brown has carved twelve canoes since 1973, in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Thanks to Scott Bessho who arranged  this amazing talk.

BCC was treated to a preview of Spiral of Fire and Seat at the Drum, two films that will be broadcast on PBS this coming November. Our own Phil Lucas is one of the senior producers of these films. Both films deal admirably with complex contemporary issues in Indian Country. They include the resurgence of identity, language and culture in Indian communities after policies of forced assimilation which included boarding schools, relocation, and putting Indian children into foster homes. Controversy over blood quantum (who is  Indian and who is not) has been surfacing, with individuals who want to acknowledge their heritage as well as with individuals who covet tribal gaming income. Historical events and their current consequences were reviewed in the plight of the urban Indian.

Frank Blythe (Eastern Cherokee), the executive producer (and who incidentally went to high school with Phil Lucas), has been a driving force in Native American media for a number of years. He has produced countless shows for PBS and is currently in discussion with Fox to do a Native reality show. He spoke about the creative decisions involved in making the films and in trying to develop Native talent.

My personal high for the film festival was the time that I got to spend with Gary Farmer (Cayuga). Actor, cultural activist, musician and filmmaker, he has been featured in groundbreaking leading roles including his role as Nobody in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, (which was screened at the film festival). Gary presented his film The Gift (about corn in keeping with BCC Reads!) which was screened at Sundance. He also presented the film One Dead Indian, a true account about the political intrigue and racism that resulted in the shooting of a Native American activist by the Ontario police and the eventual downfall of the Premier of Ontario. It was particularly relevant as a group of young activists trained by Gary had just won back land rights to a piece of Native land that was sold to developers. Gary is a phenomenally intelligent and charismatic person with photographic recall. It was an incredible blast to share time with him.
Trudell is an emotional roller coaster of a film that covers the life of American Indian activist and performer, John Trudell. It was screened at Sundance and Tribeca and won a jury prize at the Seattle International Film Festival. It is currently in independent distribution. Filmmaker, Heather Rae, concerned that the film gets viewed not just in art house theatres, has just received a Ford Foundation grant to mount viewings in the community. The film will also come out in DVD on May 15. An edited form of Trudell (sans FBI references) was broadcast on PBS (nationally but not locally). Despite her great success, Heather made many references to the mentoring that she received from Phil Lucas and how he continues to influence her work. Even with the popularity of scandal mongering documentaries (which generate much more money), Heather said that she stood by Phil's tenet that you should respect your subject.

The Kirkland Performance Center cosponsored a showing on Friday night that brought people from the community.

The potluck is a Native American event where communities meet to share. It is an important tradition in many communities of color and despite the many potlucks we have had this year (Diversity Caucus opening potluck, Living Treasures, 244 Celebration, Taste of BCC) where our community generously brings delicious food, it is always important to honor this tradition during our American Indian Film Festival. This year's event had fabulous food and great company.
In addition to the major filmmakers, this year's American Indian Film Festival sought to draw in younger filmmakers in the community. This included UW Native Voices graduate students Alicia Wood and Rachel Nez, the Reel Youth program which allows Native and African American high school students to express themselves in film, and Native Lens, a program in partnership with the Swinomish Tribe which has worked with more than 100 Indigenous youth in the creation of youth-driven films and media productions. They believe that the expansion of Native communication centers will require the development of this talent. Creating these connections to these communities is crucial to future recruiting of a diverse student body that reflects our multicultural society and benefits all our students. We hope we were successful.