The American Indian Interactive Film Gallery: An Interdisciplinary Visual Archive

Jennifer Jenkins, Associate Professor of English

Associate English Professor Jennifer Jenkins and American Indian Studies Assistant Professor Amy Fatzinger launched the American Indian Film Gallery as an interactive, 21st century web presence under the University’s aegis. It contains over 450 non-fiction films that document Native lifeways from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, with a large concentration on peoples of the Southwest. The films range from a 1922 silent newsreel to recent footage of pow-wows and political meetings in 2011.

The majority of the films date to the golden age of U.S. educational and sponsored filmmaking, after World War II up to the advent of portable video. Interestingly, the video age marks a shift in the collection from films about Native peoples to films by Native peoples. This historical span, then, allows for study of Native representation from outside and inside indigenous communities across the Americas over nearly a century. As such, it is an incomparable teaching and research tool for examining historical attitudes, representations, and understandings of indigenous populations across the Americas.

In December 2014, Professor Jenkins presented on the project at a two-day symposium hosted by the National Museum of American Indian in Washington, DC. In July 2015, she presented, "American Indian Film Gallery: the Moving Image, Tribesourcing, and the Archive," at the Library History Seminar at Simmons.

The project figured heavily in the successful UA School of Information and Library Sciences Knowledge River "Connected Learning in Digital Heritage Curation" grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for $315,578, awarded fall 2014.