| A few summers back I was invited to the Apsaalooka (Crow) Indian reservation in Montana. On the day before I left for home my friend, Etting Little Owl (seen here with his wife Harriet) gave me the Crowname Hillegyo Maakuuxshiibiish. It means One who comes from far away to help. A name to live up to, certainly. |
And the film I’m working on is a way of doing just that. Here is a 50+ minute iteration of the work so far.
During that first visit I mainly just looked and listened. But when I got home an idea started to form...for a film! And I returned to the reservation last spring to see if I could really bring it off.
When I arrived, somerone in the tribe asked, “What do you want to say with this film?”
“I don’t want to say anything,” I answered, “I want to listen.” And I went to work.
I envision a film that is a kind of visual biography of the Apsaalooka (Crow) tribe in the present tense, told in their own words, in the character of their faces and the folds of the land.
The form of the piece will be a braid of short sequences—sometimes a story, sometimes just a sentence, or just the sound of wind—that allows viewers to weave an impression of fact, feeling and vision of these original inhabitants as they stand in the present and look into the future.
The result will offer a direct knowledge of a part of history and its living consequences. It will offer an understanding of how our mainstream culture is different from_and similar to_that of the original inhabitants. It will make a connection to our own best and most empathetic natures.
In the past my projects have been a matter of a camera and a plane ticket, and I have funded them on my own. But this one is beyond my ability to self-fund.
I have already begun this work, with the hope that I can raise the money to complete it.
In the end, this is a project that can’t be monetized. As Lewis Hyde reminds us in his book The Gift, the very things that define us and make us who we are, simply can’t be measured by their cost or return. Even to try destroys their value.
All of the best projects that I’ve ever done have begun more or less like this, when a door into some other world opens and I step through, then bring back something for others to see. This one has already taken me deeply into a place I never thought to enter. I hope to return withsomething unique, something of value to us all.
Your participation in this work is welcome, and you can do it my making a tax-deductable contribution to the Centerpole Foundation. You can send this to me at
576 Leetes Isand Rd
Branford CT 06405
I will forward it to them and put your dollars to work.