ORIGIN OF THE FILM AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI
In the late 1960s veterans of the civil rights movement organized the Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life in Los Angeles with the purpose of aiding American Indian peoples struggling for self-determination. One conflict continuing to this day was and is the resistance in northern Arizona by Hopi and Dineh traditionals of the Black Mesa Coalition against mining of coal and uranium on their sacred mesa. The uranium mining there continues to pollute their ground water. The Dineh in particular have in the past been severely impacted with cancer cases resulting from uranium dumping. Many indigenous peoples believe taking oil and minerals is a transgression against Mother Earth. In 1969 the federal government brought in contractors to provide the first electric power to the traditionals' village of Hotevilla. Power poles were trucked in, and heavy equipment arrived to clear the way for the installation. At this point, a group of Hopi elders arrived on the scene to block the work. These old men lay down in the path of the bulldozers, ready to sacrifice their lives if necessary to prevent electric power from coming to their village. This scene of confrontation was a moment of truth for those in the civil rights movement. Demonstrating against "progress" seemed to be contrary to our beliefs. To capitalist and communist alike, belief in the value of material progress had always been fundamental. Why would any sane person resist progress? Our whole purpose had been to gain a fair share of the economic pie for those who had been shut out. The traditional Hopi held their beliefs to be more important than any pie.. The lesson we all learned was the source of inspiration for our documentary short AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI and more recently for our dramatic feature film EARTH SPIRIT. The answer, the Hopi elders say, is that you must pay for what you get. Electricity must be paid for in money. In the traditional economy there was no money because it was not needed. Now the Hopi must find ways to get money. There are few jobs on the reservation other than subsistence farming. The government or the oil and mining corporations provide the only work for many.Others can only get money by going on welfare.In AUTOBIOGRAPHY we presented the life and philosophy of a traditional with his own words. This black-and-white documentary was a finalist in the National Short Film Competition and was selected for Best of Filmex at the Los Angeles International Film Exhibition..
This short film has been linked to the subsequent docudrama feature EARTH SPIRIT to be released together as a single unit under the same Hopi slogan that had been used by the traditional newsletter and by T.I.L.L. The longer film is entitled TECHQUA IKACHI:ABORIGINAL WARNING, currently represented by Cornerstone Pictures. TECHQUA IKACHI is Hopi referring to land and life.
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