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About this film

The phrase "Native American music" may not suggest tubas and trumpets, but march music by composers like John Philip Sousa has been a part of Native culture for over a century. SOUSA ON THE REZ: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum is a half-hour documentary that looks at the vibrant but little known tradition of brass band music in Indian country.

The film profiles two contemporary Indian community bands: the Iroquois Indian Band from upstate New York and the Fort Mojave Tribal Band based in Needles, California. The documentary traces the origins of these groups to their founding over a one hundred years ago and uncovers a secret history of the 20th century when "all Indian bands" toured the US and abroad.

SOUSA ON THE REZ features interviews with some of today's leading Native scholars, including Philip Deloria (University of Michigan), Rayna Green (National Museum of American History) and award-winning musician and educator R. Carlos Nakai. The film also features John Troutman (University of Louisiana) who has written extensively on the topic of Native brass bands.

SOUSA ON THE REZ: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum is a co-production with Native American Public Telecommunications and is produced in association with the Center for Independent Documentary.

This documentary will be made available to public television stations nationwide in January 2013 by American Public Broadcasting.

About the filmmaker

Cathleen O'Connell is an independent documentary producer based in Boston. Her films shine a light on lesser known but important facets of American culture - stories found when you exit the interstate and pull onto the blue highways and back roads. Her broadcast credits include non-fiction programming for PBS, Animal Planet, The History Channel and Discovery Channel. O'Connell is a member of the Center for Independent Documentary and a graduate of Brown University.

While working for the Fort Mojave tribe in 2001, she met tribal elder Llewellyn Barrackman. Mr. Barrackman introduced her to the Fort Mojave Tribal Band and its history. Sousa on the Rez is dedicated to the memory of Llew and Betty Barrackman.

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Film Credits click here.

About our partners

Vision Maker Media
Vision Maker Media, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, shares Native stories with the world through support of the creation, promotion and distribution of Native media. Founded in 1977, we advance media that represents the experiences, values, and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Vision Maker Media is your premier source for quality Native American and Pacific Islander educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media-to be the next generation of storytellers. Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we offer student employment, internships and fellowships. For more information, visit visionmakermedia.org.

American Public Television
American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. Since 2004, APT has distributed approximately half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.

Center for Independent Documentary
Center for Independent Documentary was founded in 1981 to collaborate with independent producers to create films and videos on issues of contemporary social and cultural concern. Their over 200 films have been seen on HBO, PBS, at the Sundance Festival, and have earned numerous awards from Emmy’s to Peabody’s. At a Massachusetts state house ceremony, the Center was awarded the Commonwealth Award as Outstanding Cultural Organization in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for excellence, dedication, and vision in giving voice to independent New England documentary filmmakers and for broadening the audience of this medium.
Visit their site.

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Bibliography and Web Resources for Future Study

Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934
by John Troutman
This fascinating book documents how music and politics intersected to impact the lives of Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Find it here.

Indians In Unexpected Places
by Philip Deloria
Deloria's terrific book uncovers a "secret history" of Native American agency in music, sports and technology.
Find it here.

 

American Indian Performing Arts: Critical Directions
edited by Hanay Geiogamah and
Jaye T. Darby
Check out this essay by Janis Johnson in this collection entitled "Performing Indianness and Excellence: Nez Perce Jazz Bands of the Twentieth Century" which is an in-depth look at one tribe's jazz heritage.
Find it here.

 

 

To learn more about the Carlisle Indian School, visit http://www.carlisleindianschool.org. The site was created by Barbara Landis and Genevieve Bell to respectfully honor those students and their descendants who lived the experiment, celebrate with those who prospered from it, and grieve with those whose lives were diminished by it. This is a history that belongs to all Americans. The identities of all Americans are shaped by the Carlisle experiment.

The U.S. Army and Heritage Center maintains a rich visual archive at their Carlisle Indian Industrial School Photograph Collection.