The life stories of four Navajo elders are featured in student-made documentary films that will be premiered at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, on Friday, Oct. 8, and at Diné College, Tsaile, Arizona, on Monday, Oct. 11.
The Winona State reception begins at 5 p.m. in the atrium of the WSU Science Laboratory Center. The Diné College reception begins at 5 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Classroom of the Ned Hatathli Center at Diné College's Tsaile campus.
Six students from Diné College collaborated with seven students from Winona State University to research, interview, photograph and video record Navajo elders over a two-week period in May 2010. The students, participating in the 2010 Navajo Oral History project, wrote, edited and produced documentary films that will be archived at the Navajo Nation Museum and Library. This is the second year of the documentary journalism project.
This year's films feature Andrew Brady, an air force veteran, retired coal miner, and farmer from Shiprock, N. M.; John Kinsel, Sr., a World War II Navajo Code Talker from Lukachukai, Ariz.; Lettie Nave, an educator and community leader from Tsaile; and Marjorie "Grandma" Thomas, an educator, author and fundraiser for a Navajo youth center from Chinle, Ariz.
The documentaries were part of a collaborative project led by Dr. Miranda Haskie of Diné College and Dr. Tom Grier of Winona State University.
Student teams completed service projects for the Navajo elders and interviewed each elder several times. They also interviewed friends, colleagues and family members of the elders and did background research while on the Navajo Nation.
After the premiere event, short versions of the films will be available for viewing on the WSU Mass Communication department's news lab web site: Winona360.org.
The premiere will include comments from the faculty and students involved. Several Diné College students will travel to WSU to be present at the Winona reception, and several WSU students will travel to Diné College for the reception there. At the Diné College reception, the featured elders present will also speak about the experience.
Light refreshments will be served before the presentation of the films. The reception and premiere events are free and open to the public.
The students who researched, wrote, edited and produced the documentaries are: from Diné College: Altyn Burnside, Marcus A. Lake, Revaline Nez, Shaina Nez, and Ernestine Sanisya; and from Winona State University: Ben Chambers, Robbie Christiano, Sawyer Derry, Brianna Klapperich, Michael Ruka, Kelly Sharratt, and Jennifer Westman.