Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Full Day on the Navajo Nation

It was kind of a melancholy day for the 2015 Navajo Oral History Project today (Wednesday, June 10), as the class met in person for the last time, and the Winona State University students and faculty prepared to leave the Navajo Nation and return to Minnesota on Thursday.

The day began with another heavy rain event. As mentioned on the blog before, there has been more rain here in the high desert of northern Arizona than anyone can remember for a long time.

During a morning classroom session, each documentary journalism group explained their progress on the film they are making about a Navajo elder. Groups showed snippets of their films, and constructive criticism was offered.

Groups then met throughout the day to further refine their projects, and to shoot more last-minute B-roll footage.

In the evening, some of the van packing was done. Then, trying to release some tension and nervous energy, the students played games, talked and laughed.

For 30-40 minutes the group got serious and did a Talking Circle, where each person held a talking stick and said whatever was on their mind, without interruption. What a gift in today's busy society, to be able to say what you're feeling honestly and without fear, knowing that 12 other smart and caring people will listen to you and not judge you or interrupt. That kind of thing happens very infrequently in everyday life. Here, sequestered away from the pressure of "real life," family, jobs, etc., it was a nice moment for the group to share with each other and to further bond as they prepare to go their separate ways.

Of course, the project isn't done, even though the field portion is coming to an end. Next week, the groups will continue to meet and refine their projects. The class will meet several times via ITV to view updated drafts of the films and to further tweak them to get as close to perfection as possible. 

Early in fall semester, the films will be premiered at receptions at both Winona State University and DinĂ© College. The Winona reception and premiere is scheduled for Thursday, Sept 10, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Atrium of WSU's Science Laboratory Center. The Tsaile, Arizona, reception is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 14, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Student Union Building. These film premiere receptions are free and open to the public. Please come and help these students celebrate the product of their hard work.

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