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  • Writer's pictureKatherine (K’iya) Wilson

Native Students Film U of O Pow-wow


Thanks to EWF who sponsored the Girls/Teen/Juniors Fancy Dance Contest | Photo by Alex Hernandez

The 55th Annual Mother’s Day Pow-wow at University of Oregon was a filmmaker’s dream of color, culture, and collaboration for our team at Elderberry Wisdom Farm. We have been filming the Native American Student Union planning sessions this winter, plus behind-the-scenes set up prior to the powwow. We then filmed the Grand Entry on special 16mm film; with Native students filming the rest of the event on their cell phones.


In June we will pick the selects and begin lacing them together on a new timeline with help from award-winning Editor Bob Laird. When Professor Mitchell Block’s Documentary Film Camp begins the second week of July, our Native students will learn Movie Magic.


What started as a training exercise on the “lost story” or history “prequel” to this upcoming documentary on the Mother’s Day Pow-wow has garnered a lot of attention in the University’s Academic Community. We were simply seeking permissions for images we wanted from the Knight Library when their Special Collections department met and formally asked for the 9-minute film to be officially designated as worthy of a Special Collection piece.


When we entered it into the U of O’s Undergrad Research Symposium, the Vice Provost Dr. Kevin Hatfield encouraged our students to apply for their $5000 Summer Living Expense Research Grant in order for them to make their own films, as planned. Out of the two who applied, one of them won the grant. We then entered the film into the Klamath Independent Film Festival with the help of the Oregon Film Office which waived the fee.


Our Native Youth Film Training Project is progressing. Our students are planning on filming their cultural traditions from as far away as Hawaii (Pacific Islander) to Tulelake (Modoc) to the nearby McKenzie River (Kalapuya) and also Klamath Falls (Klamath) in between.

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