Library Journal Review
March 1, 2003, volume 128 no. 4
Faithful To Continuance: Legacy Of The Plateau People
color. 58 min. Mimbres Fever Productions,
2403 Earl St., Los Angeles, CA 90039
323/669-0761. 2002. NATIVE AMERICAN
The history, culture, and future of the various tribes located between the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains are the focus of this production, which effectively combines historical information with insights from outstanding contemporary artists into the ancient tradition that has had such a profound
effect on their lives and work. The creation of beautiful baskets, beadwork, sculpture, and paintings is contrasted with the ancient artifacts upon which much of the work is based. The importance of fishing is apparent as we travel with one of the last of the Columbia Plateau People to make a living in this ancient trade. Gentle poetry by Elizabeth Woody is interspersed throughout, creating an appropriate mood of serenity. The production is most effective when the various artists explain their personal link to the ancient culture and how each is trying, in his/her own way, to see that it does not disappear.
As explained by basketmaker Elaine Timentwa Emerson, "I make baskets because I want people to know we're still here." This dignified film proves that the Plateau People are indeed still here and continuing to thrive. An excellent addition to collections with a strong regional interest as well as comprehensive Native American collections.
Wayne Hardy, Tulsa City, City Library.
March 1, 2003
Faithful To Continuance
Once flourishing between the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges, the Columbia River Plateau People (members of the Nez Perce, Colville, Umatilla, Yakama, and Warm Springs Nations) left an imprint on their culture through rock pictographs, petroglyphs, and sculpture. Celebrating the artistic work of their ancestors six Native Americans from the region express themselves through poetry, pottery, basketry, paintings, and other creative works. Each talks about a connection with their forebears and the spiritual elements of their artistic endeavors. Narration discusses native legends and provides background information as scenic footage pays homage to the land. Carvings, sculpture, and other artifacts are surveyed in this fine primer on Columbia River Native American culture. Keeping The Spirit Alive (1999) focuses on other northwest artists carrying on similar traditions.
April 22, 2003
Tribal Art comes under documentary lens
Work demonstrates resiliency of Columbia River Plateau cultures
by Jill Spitznass
Ten thousand years after her ancestors did so, Pat Gold weaves baskets that reflect the culture of her people, members of the Wasco and Warm Springs tribes.
"Every basket tells a story," says Gold, who uses techniques and designs that have been handed down through the generations.
Gold and five other Plateau artists are profiled in "Faithful To Continuance," a documentary that celebrates the creativity and cultural resiliency of the Columbia River plateau people.
Defined as those Native Americans who live between the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges, the Plateau people include the Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Yakama tribes.
The documentary is the work of Los Angeles-based independent filmmakers Penny Phillips and David Schneiderman, who specialize in creating videos about Native American culture.
Schneiderman says that making the films offers the couple a sort of spiritual respite from their 9-to-5 jobs.
"We're in the television industry in Hollywood, it's not very satisfying work," he says dryly.
The hour long documentary succeeds in quietly illustrating the importance of the artists work, both from a personal and cultural standpoint. As they perform their craft on-camera, they discuss what it's like to be Native American artists producing ancient crafts in a modern world. In each case, the artists reveal an immense pride in their heritage, an emotion that fuels the desire to be a conduit for their tribes culture-- something they've done even when it wasn't prudent to do so.
"As a child, I was punished for speaking my own language on the reservation," says Elaine Timentwa Emerson, a basket maker and Colville tribe member. "I make baskets now because I want people to know that we're still here."
In addition to basketry, intricate beadwork, mixed-media sculpture and abstract printmaking are highlighted in the film, which is set to Native American music and gentle spoken-word poetry of Wasco tribal member Elizabeth Woody.
Historical insights are interspersed throughout the film, creating a context for the role that crafts played in the ancient plateau culture. Salmon, for instance, was more than just a food source for the tribes; the fish is a recurring symbol of the cultural identity throughout the millennia, resurfacing time and again in every tribal art form.
The increasing presence of white culture is also seen in the artwork, beginning with the Lewis and Clark expedition. The mingling of the two worlds is evident in a late -1800s tribal necklace that incorporated Russian trade beads and Chinese coins, and in Joe Feddersen's ironic basket designs. In what he calls his "Urban Indian series," the Colville tribe member substitutes tire track and brick patterns for traditional patterns.
Like several of the subjects profiled in "Faithful To Continuance," Maynard Lavadour is philosophilcal about the importance of art in maintaining a strong tribal heritage, particularly as the white culture encroached.
"My elders told me, 'Listen, pay attention, and put it in your heart; that way no one can take it from you,'" Lavadour says as he displays his remarkable beading skills. "'Then you must teach what you have learned; don't be stingy.'"