Events: Film Screenings of ‘The Indian System,’ Winter Storytelling Night, and More

In this blog:

  • American Indian Traditional Storytelling, Thursday, Feb. 21
  • Film screening and discussion of Sheldon Wolfchild’s film “The Indian System,” Friday, March 1 and Thursday March 28
  • Save the Date for Mde Maka Ska Community Conversations Part 2, Saturday March 2

American Indian Traditional Winter Storytelling

The North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District is hosting an American Indian Traditional Winter Storytelling event on Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:15-8:30 p.m. at Skyview Community School, 1100 Heron North in Oakdale. The event is free and open to the public. Representatives from the Raptor Center also will bring eagles and hawks. Light refreshments served.

In some indigenous traditions, stories are told in certain seasons. For the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) of northern Minnesota, winter is storytelling time. Here is an explanation provided by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (cited in a Smithsonian article.)

Like many events in American Indian culture there is a proper time and place for all activities. Traditional storytelling is reserved for the winter months for many tribes. This was a practical choice given the fact that during the other season’s, people were busy growing, gathering, and hunting food. It was in the winter, with the long dark evenings, the snow and wind blowing outside, that telling stories was a way to entertain and teach the children. Another reason is that many traditional stories contain animal characters. To be respectful, people waited until the winter when animals hibernate or become less active so they cannot hear themselves being talked about.

Film Screenings of Sheldon Wolfchild’s Documentary “The Indian System”

Film producer Sheldon Wolfchild has released his second documentary, this one titled “The Indian System,” which tells the backstory to the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 on the Minnesota prairie. The video is now for sale (click here.)

There are two free screenings you can attend, too. Both will include a post-film Q&A with Wolfchild. The screenings are:

  • Premier on Friday, March 1, 7 p.m., The Schneider Theater, Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington
  • Thursday, March 28, on the University of Minnesota campus, Ralph Rapson Hall, 89 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, Room 100. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., film starts at 6 p.m. A conversation with Wolfchild follows the screening.

Here is how Wolfchild describes the film on his website:

Until recently, historians have failed to uncover the truth behind the war of 1862 in Minnesota. In this movie, filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild portrays his grandfather, Medicine Bottle. He tells a Dakota oral history of the 1862 war, the hangings of the Dakota 38 Plus 2, and the removal of the Dakota from Minnesota. During the 1850’s and throughout history, treaties were forced upon the Dakota people. Noted Minnesotans such as Henry H. Sibley and Alexander Ramsey manipulated the Dakota people to cheat them out of their supposed benefits, and ultimately their land.

After the Dakota were removed to their reservation, corrupt agents and Indian department superintendents embezzled as much Dakota treaty money as they could. In the production of this movie the filmmaker interviews historians and authors Dr. David Nichols and Mark Diedrich to artfully weave this story together. Sheldon Wolfchild is a member and former Tribal Chairman of the Lower Sioux Indian Tribe who has appeared in a number of feature films and television shows.

Wolfchild also produced the powerful documentary: The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code. Trailers for both films are available on his website.

Save the Date for Mde Maka Ska Community Conversations Part 2

Mark your calendars for Part 2 of the Mde Maka Ska Community Conversations, to be held Saturday, March 2, 1-5 p.m. at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. S, Minneapolis. Stay tuned for more details.

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