UI Sapaatk’ayn Cinema Celebrates Language and Creation

Tuesday, March 18 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – Delve into a new world of cinema to explore the importance of preserving endangered languages and the process of staging a creation story at the University of Idaho’s Native American Film Festival Sapaatk’ayn Cinema March 28-29 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.

The festival begins Friday, March 28 at 7 p.m. with a showing of “Language Healers,” one of the first films to focus on how the broader Native community is revitalizing its languages.

From Alaska to Oklahoma and Wisconsin to Montana, the documentary deftly weaves stories about the importance of saving Native American languages. In the documentary, viewers will meet some of the people who are working to heal these national treasures.

“I’m well aware that Native American languages weren’t ‘lost,’ as many of us assume, they were forcibly taken away and outlawed, and it takes enormous effort to get them back,” said festival producer Jan Johnson, coordinator of UI’s American Indian studies program. “Language is critical for identity, for conveying values, worldviews and wisdom, and Native language revitalization is a crucial part of recovering from colonization.”

The film struck a chord with Johnson, who began studying the Nez Perce language, Nimipuutimt, through Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston last fall.

“While learning Nimipuutimt and thinking about having been born and raised in Lewiston, I realized in addition to being the language of the local Indigenous people, it’s also the original language of this specific place, and that deepened my desire to learn,” said Johnson. “I want to know the language of this beautiful place.”

After the screening, there will be a discussion with Neyooxet Greymorning, and Phillip Cash Cash. A reception will follow at Moscow Bookpeople. Greymorning holds joint positions in anthropology and Native American studies at the University of Montana. His research interests include Native American language maintenance and restoration, Indigenous sovereignty issues and contemporary Native American issues. Cash Cash is a doctoral candidate in the joint program in anthropology and linguistics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He studies endangered and indigenous languages of the Columbia Plateau.

New to the festival this year is a Saturday matinee, where “Language Healers” and “The Making of Timnéepe” will be shown starting at 3 p.m. “The Making of Timnéepe” is a documentary by Patricia Keith of Lewiston on the 2013 staging of the Nez Perce Creation story in the Nez Perce language by Angel Sobotta. Greymorning, Cash Cash and Keith will talk with the audience following the afternoon screening.

“The Making of Timnéepe” will be the featured evening film Saturday at the 7 p.m. showing at the Kenworthy. Language consultants, directors, cast and crew will talk about their experiences bringing this story to life in Nimipuutimt.

Johnson said she is thrilled to show a documentary with roots so near the Palouse, which helps engage the community even further.

The films also provide a bridge to a new partnership between the University of Idaho and LCSC. The UI will begin offering Nez Perce Language 101 in Moscow next fall in collaboration with LCSC.


Contact: Amanda Cairo, University Communications, (208) 885-6259(208) 885-6259, acairo@uidaho.edu

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