For the first time in its 92-year history, the Oscar ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be held in early February. Much more significant firsts for the Academy this year are the presentation of the Governors’ Honorary Award to Wes Studi (Cherokee), the first Native American to be so honored, and the first Best Picture nomination for an indigenous director, Taika Waititi (Maori), also known as Taika Cohen, for the film Jojo Rabbit.
The Library has been aware of both their careers for some time and the collection includes video-recordings of important “firsts” for each artist. Powwow Highway, originally produced as a motion picture in 1988 and credited by Wes Studi as his first major film role, was added to the Library collection in 2005. While the first professional filmmaking effort by Taika Cohen, Two Cars, One Night, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short, Live Action Film in 2004, was screened during the Heard Film Festival in 2005 and was acquired for the Library collection in 2007. This long overdue recognition of indigenous talent in the motion picture industry is part of a very complex history. Native Americans have been a staple of Hollywood cinema for decades and frequently not represented in the best light. It is only in recent years that Native American actors, directors, screenwriters and others are having critical input into how their communities and their heritage are depicted in film.
Here are four selections from the Library collection that cover the portrayal of Native American culture on film from objectionable beginnings in silent movies to the encouraging impact of Native American voices in filmmaking. These works highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly for Native Americans and film are currently on display in the public reading area of the Library. Please feel free to visit the Library to review these or any other items of interest in the Library and Archives collections. For more details or additional collection information, click on the link labeled Library Catalog Search located in the pull-down menu of the Library tab on the Heard Museum website.
Native recognition : indigenous cinema and the Western
Albany : SUNY Press, ©2012
Heard call number PN1995.9.I48 H42 2012
Native Americans in the movies : portrayals from silent films to the present
Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield,  Heard call number REF: PN1995.9.I48 H55 2016
Marubbio, M. Elise and Eric L. Buffalohead (editors)
Native Americans on film : conversations, teaching, and theory
Lexington, Kentucky : The University Press of Kentucky, c2013
Heard call number PN1995.9.I48 N36 2013
Imagic moments : indigenous North American film
Athens : The University of Georgia Press, 2013
Heard call number PN1995.9.I48 S39 2013