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Navajo Talking Picture

Cinema on Native Ground

Randolph Lewis

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xi

I have several institutional debts of gratitude going back to 2003. I began thinking about this subject during a year as a research associate at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, where my partner...

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Series Editor’s Introduction

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pp. xiii-xvi

I feel an immense amount of joy that our second title of the Indigenous Films series is Randolph Lewis’s “Navajo Talking Picture”: Cinema on Native Ground. Arlene Bowman’s film, Navajo Talking Picture, was the topic of the first conversation...

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pp. xvii-xxviii

“Could you ask her why she thinks I’m using her?” In a darkened room in a dusty hogan on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, Arlene Bowman, a young Navajo filmmaker, is working with an inexperienced...

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1. A Brief History of Celluloid Navajos

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pp. 1-48

In a small place called Tuba City, Arizona, on the western span of the Navajo reservation, the actor and producer Robert Redford arrived in the early 1990s with a Tony Hillerman mystery in hand. His choice of reading...

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2. Navajo Filmmaker

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pp. 49-71

Arlene Bowman was born in 1955 in Fort Defiance, Arizona, not far from where her father’s family lived in Tohatchi, New Mexico. While still a young girl growing up in the final years of the Eisenhower administration...

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3. Reaction

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pp. 72-87

In her fine book Imaging Indians in the Southwest, cultural historian Leah Dilworth writes about sharing the work of Hopi filmmaker Victor Masayesva with her college students in New York City. Much to their professor’s chagrin...

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4. Intent

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pp. 88-104

Looking at the screen, most viewers want to know: Why did she do this? What were Arlene Bowman’s intentions in making Navajo Talking Picture? Finding an answer, however, is more difficult than we might expect, because the relationship between...

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5. Ethics

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pp. 105-123

Today, few people accept the crude principles that guided image making almost a century ago. In 1907, in response to the German government’s attempts to prohibit “the photographing of any person or his property...

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6. Native Ground

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pp. 124-160

I’ve spent some time in the past several chapters trying to put Navajo Talking Picture into new contexts that respect its status simply as cinema, rather than treating it exclusively as an Indian artifact with little connection to larger trends...

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7. Final Thoughts

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pp. 161-174

Today, Arlene Bowman remains an active filmmaker with her own cinematic ambitions, although her efforts have often resulted in more frustration than reward. In the twenty-something years since she released her first...

Navajo Talking Picture Production and Distribution Information

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pp. 175


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pp. 177-208

Further Reading

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pp. 209


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pp. 211-215

E-ISBN-13: 9780803240827
E-ISBN-10: 0803240821
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803238411

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 14 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012