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LGM Film Club, Part 59: Jemez Dances

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I’ve been rereading N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, a fantastic novel about a Jemez man dealing with life in postwar America. It made me wonder what historical visions there were available of Jemez culture and I came across this 1947 film highlighting Jemez dances, both at the big inter-tribal dance in Gallup and at Jemez Pueblo. This is a moment when even white liberals were really unsure whether there was any spot in American culture for Native Americans (this is the real explanation for why Arthur Schlesinger didn’t mention Cherokee removal in The Age of Jackson. It just didn’t make sense to the way not only he but so many New Dealers saw American history). So while there is some condescending language in here, the overall attempt, as explicitly stated at the end of the film, is that Native people are an important part of American life and culture. Some weird slowing of the film from time to time too and I don’t really know what is going on there. Feels quite awkward.

Also, here is more on Tony White Cloud, the Jemez dancer featured in the second half of the film.

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