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  • By K'iya Wilson

Native Student Film Project Pilot was a Success

Rebecca Cammisa, Deb Riddle (Modoc) Professor Mitchell Block and K'iya Wilson discussing Native Film Training.

As we finished our grant cycle for our Native Youth Film Training with a Longhouse Film Festival, we were astounded by the love and support from the University of Oregon, the Native Community and the U of O Faculty and Staff.  And now that our pilot program was so successful, we are being approached by Elders in the community, U of O Faculty, and several local non-profits, who are wanting us to continue and expand this program that Elderberry Wisdom Farm started this year with myself and our 4 Students.  

As a recent Holiday Farm Wildfire survivor who grew up on Fire Lookouts, I knew that Indigenous Stories and Wisdom would help my beloved McKenzie River to recover. And that’s why the proposed McKenzie River Discovery Center approached us and asked us for a proposal to join their team in telling the stories of the Indigenous People of the McKenzie River Corridor.

So I then approached the U of O Journalism Chair of Documentary Production Mitchell Block (who worked with us for our Doc Camp this last summer) for help.  He not only agreed to help, but he has taken this dream under his wing, and wrote a Proposal for approval by the U of O Dean to have them host a two-week Doc Camp next summer for Native Youth, including U of O dormitories for them to stay in, while the McKenzie River Discovery Center gets through its own rebuilding and reorganization after the Wildfire.  We are planning, however, on holding our Film Festival there, next Fall. 

In addition to Mitchell Block and his co-presenter, Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winner Rebecca Cammisa, other faculty have offered to help us as well, such as U of O Professors Dr. Kevin Hatfield, Dr. Stephen Rust and other U of O Native Faculty and Staff involved in the U of O Many Nations Longhouse in Eugene, Oregon; as well as Tribal members Debra Riddle (Modoc), Ed Edmo (Shoshone/Bannock/Nez Perce) and Rowena Jackson (Klamath); and as always, professional filmmaker support from Oregon's A-List Film Crew.

We thank you, Elderberry Wisdom Farm, and especially Rose High Bear, for creating the inimitable template for this wonderful event with your organization and its incredible grant funders. We also look forward to entering our current EWF films in Film Festivals after we have finished improving them for the new festival cycle beginning after the new year.

Dr. Mitchell Block with his library of his books on film. Photo by K'iya Wilson.

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