The Chickasaw Nation Multimedia and Heritage Series teams seek to promote tribal soverignty and community wellness by leveraging documentary to bolster cultural transmission and to assist with tribal governmental activities. They create work about Chickasaw culture that empowers Chickasaw people, dismantles stereotypes, and is accessible across the world and will continue to be accessible for generations. The Chickasaw Nation Multimedia and Heritage Series teams are based at the tribal headquarters of the Chickasaw Nation in Ada, Oklahoma.
There are many reasons why this work is absolutely crucial and pertinent. Cultural transmission has been difficult to impossible in the past due to Federal Indian Boarding Schools. In the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans were forced to attend boarding schools were they were forcibly assimilated. Children were violently punished for practicing their culture and neglect, abuse, and death was commonplace. Because so many generations of Chickasaws were forced to attend boarding schools, many cultural practices were nearly lost. Today there are only 48 remaining first-generation speakers of the Chickasaw language. Many Chickasaw people do not have someone in their family who can pass down cultural teachings.
Another reason why this work is so important is that the majority of Chickasaw people live off the reservation and have a tremendous difficulty accessing community. The Chickasaw Nation has over 80,000 citizens, but most live off the reservation. In fact, over 78% of all Native Americans do not live on their reservation, and those who live on the reservation face incredible animosity and stereotypes from the white majority. Because of how reservation lands were stolen from tribal nations in Oklahoma, there are far more non-Native people who live on the Chickasaw reservation than Native people.
Thus, many Chickasaws do not posess the resources or are apathetic about learning cultural practices or participating in tribal activities. And if our cultural practices and collective identity disappears, we will cease to exist as a people. The Chickasaw Nation Multimedia and Heritage Series teams seek to combat this through leveraging the media. Art is unique in its ability to shatter stereotypes, empower, and to forge a collective identity. In this way, the work we are doing is securing tribal soverignty and empowering the community for generations to come.
The Multimedia and Heritage series teams have a fully operational film studio and multiple specialized offices to house every step of the production process from video editing to audio engineering. We possess state of the art film equipment as well as a small fleet of vehicles to transport employees to shoots across the reservation. Additionally, the teams are staffed with highly skilled producers, editors, writers, and other creative and cultural experts dedicated to advancing the mission of the Chickasaw Nation. I will learn a tremendous amount from these creative, community-driven experts, and I can bring my unique perspective and education in the fields of policy, Native studies, and documentary studies.