HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- On the grand scale of all things Hollywood, one might
consider Native involvement in the media and technology sector mediocre at
But Fox Entertainment Group and Native Media and Technology Network have
joined forces to further diversify employment by bringing on-the-job
training to Native populations across the country. With a media giant's
backing, and the help of countless organizations, Natives interested in the
media and film industry could get the hands-on experience needed for a
variety of careers.
At a private reception on Feb. 21, Fox made the commitment to about 150
NMTN supporters. Both organizations are teaming up to provide training to
Native populations for behind-the-scenes jobs in the media/technology
sector at television and film studios across the country.
"The issue of diversity is inclusive and doesn't belong to one individual,"
said Gerald Alacantar, vice president of Fox's Diversity Development
Alacantar explained that the first course of action is to develop training
programs at Fox-owned television stations in areas with concentrated Native
populations. The program will launch in Minnesota and later expand to
Arizona, Washington state and Florida -- and, ideally, nationwide.
In addition to training and mentoring Native youth, NMTN organizers plan to
expand business opportunities to Native companies and organizations,
including the formation of Native media companies.
"We want to see more Native Americans in the entertainment industry," said
Lyn Dennis, executive director of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest
Indians. "We realize this is history, this is a dream for everyone involved
in this effort."
NMTN was created in 2000 with the assistance from the Center for Community
Change, a national nonprofit group dedicated to helping low-income people
build effective organizations that positively affect their community. That
same year, Fox got involved with NMTN when it helped form the American
Indian Summer Program.
For one week, 20 Native youths ages 18 -- 25 come to Los Angeles for
tutorial and experiential training in the media and entertainment industry
and creative production.
"Clearly, we are a movement bringing Native people together," said Syd
Beane, American Indian team leader at the CCC.
Beane's longtime friend, actor Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman,
Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, said the NMTN concept was in his mind for years,
and in the past he's shown students, with only a blue screen and camera,
the basics of filming. "I am not the first person with this vision, now it
has taken a giant step," he said.
Westerman is well known for his role as Ten Bears in the 1990 blockbuster
film, "Dances with Wolves."
Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation of New York representative and CEO of the
Oneida Nation Enterprises, said NMTN programs will positively effect the
image of Native influence within the media. "We know as Indian people how
we are perceived, and that is important to us," he said. "There is plenty
of Indian talent out there."
Nationwide, Fox has 35 television stations in 22 of the largest cities, and
14 regional sports networks serving 39 of the 50 largest cities.
A schedule for the debut of the Fox/NMTN job-training program has yet to be