Festival highlights lives of American Indians

Utah Vally University hosted the second annual American Indian Film Festival on Tuesday, Nov. 27, in cooperation with the Utah Education Network, in the library auditorium.

The Women and Girls Lead campaign, designed to help women and girls address the challenges of the 21st century, sponsored by the Utah Education Network, took part in the selection of the films to help celebrate, educate and active women from around the globe.

“Apache 8” and “Miss Navajo” were within the chosen featured films. “Apache 8” covered the story of an all-female firefighting crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona, who not only fight fires in Arizona, but throughout the United States.

Cheryl Bones, a prominently known crew boss who trained and taught hundreds of women firefighters, is featured in the film, alongside with Katy Aday, Nita Quintero, Erika Hinton and others.

The “Apache 8” all-women firefighting crew received national praise for their achievements and working abilities in fighting fires. The film dives deeper into the lives of each member of the crew, the trails, successes and the pride they hold as Apache women.

“It just shows the things native people can accomplish,” said Jeanie Groves, Alpine Program Director for Title VII and the Utah Indian Education Program, referring to the success and endless achievements of the American Indian people.

One of the goals of the American Indian Film Festival, according to Jeanie Groves, was to “see the different perspectives of artists [filmmakers] and how they present native life, past and present.”

Another film screened was “Miss Navajo,” which follows the journey of an aspiring Miss Navajo contestant Crystal Frazier from the Table Mesa, New Mexico reservation.

Frazier, at the time a shy 21-year-old introvert, found herself working along the way in preparation for the Miss Navajo pageant held at Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona.

Unlike normal American pageants, the pageant for the Navajo people seems to take much more than beauty to win. Extensive knowledge of the language, history and culture is what young women are expected to represent as a winner of the Miss Navajo pageant.

Currently the Navajo people are the largest American Indian tribe in the United States, at about 308,013 people in population, according to the 2010 Census.

Janet Canyon, a Title VII representative of the American Indian Advisory Committee for the Salt Lake City District, felt a strong connection with the films.

Being herself of Native background Canyon said, “Those women took a risk, and had the courage to go on. We have warrior women, and the time for future warriors is now.”

Both films seemed to receive positive reviews from those who attended.

Liz Rojas is a journalist for the UVU Review and UCAS Ascent

Leave a Reply