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‘We Shall Remain’

LAWTON, Okla. – WGBH/Boston’s PBS “American Experience” program and Comanche Nation College recently collaborated on a training project for budding Native multimedia artists.

The college sponsored a weekend workshop to help individuals document their ideas and life experiences for an upcoming “Reel Native” episode, part of the “We Shall Remain” documentary series. The series is designed to provide a venue for American Indians to share their stories with a national audience. Comanche Nation College was one of three sites chosen for the workshop presentation.

Through the workshop, participants learned various aspects of filmmaking such as implementing storyboards, compiling shot lists, script writing and conducting interviews, as well as technical processes such as lighting, sound and camera work. Workshop presenters included Choctaw filmmaker Tvli Jacobs, Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum and filmmaker Randy MacLowrey.

Jacobs, an ABC/Walt Disney Diversity Scholar, has taught motion picture storytelling in youth arts programming. As a videographer for Touchstone Pictures, he filmed a supplemental documentary for the motion picture “Hidalgo.” In addition, he produced “Silent Thunder,” a short documentary which focuses on Stanford Addison, an Arapaho horse tamer. The film received funding through Native American Public Television.

Brannum, an experienced programmer and producer, received a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund for her film project on Comanche activist LaDonna Harris. She is also the co-director of “The Creek Runs Red,” a documentary that aired in 2007 on PBS’ “Independent Lens,” a national primetime film series.

MacLowry is a filmmaker with more than 20 years experience as a producer, director, writer and editor. His documentary experience includes “The Gold Rush,” a two-hour co-production for WGBH/Boston’s “American Experience.” The film won the 2007 Organization of American Historians’ Erik Barnouw Award. MacLowry also produced and co-wrote “A Brilliant Madness” which focuses on the experiences of John Forbes Nash Jr.

Workshop participants were also treated to a screening of a previous “Reel Native” project documentary; a self-portrait of a Diné artist and his work, as well as a showing of Brannum’s “The Creek Runs Red.”

Through a five-part television series and extensive outreach activities at a number of locations around the country, “We Shall Remain” strives to present native history as an essential part of American history. Past workshop participants produced diverse films that have varied in style and content, from personal stories to issues of identity, to the affects of current and past events on particular tribes.

WGBH/Boston, producers of “We Shall Remain,” generates more than one-third of PBS’ primetime lineup and is working closely with the American Library Association to build awareness about the series among librarians, native organizations, scholars and writers.

In addition, the “We Shall Remain” Web site is planning to launch an extensive teacher’s guide for social studies educators in 2009. The guide will incorporate film segments from the documentaries into social studies resources, offering viewing and comprehension aids along with suggested classroom activities. The guide will be designed to inspire teachers to integrate American Indian history and issues into their curricula as an integral part of American history.

“This program really brought it together to bridge traditional oral storytelling with the technology that’s available,” said Sharon Cheatwood, City of Lawton Arts and Humanities Division coordinator. “It’s a permanent documentation format. Anyone at any time around the world will be able to hear their stories.” Cheatwood served as a workshop volunteer.

Comanche Nation College was founded in 2002 to offer curriculum and instruction in a culturally enriched atmosphere. According to Dr. Consuelo Lopez, the college’s interim president, the main objective of the institution is to offer education and training for jobs of the 21st century while maintaining the tribe’s cultural heritage and values.