Indigenous Film Conference

In October, I journeyed far above the Arctic Circle to the Sápmi Region in Norway and was hosted by the Indigenous Sami People. Their traditional territory runs across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, and they have recently established the International Sami Film Center (ISFC) who were the hosts of the Indigenous Film Conference. The Conference had 125 participants from across Sápmi and around the world including Russia, Australia, Panama, Guatemala, Peru, the U.S., and Canada.  Fellow Native Americans Heather Rae and Chris Eyre participated as well as several leaders from the International Indigenous film community including: Erika Glynn,manager of the Indigenous Unit, Screen Australia;  Cory Generoux, producer, National Film Board of Canada; Jason Ryle, executive director, ImagineNative Film Festival; Paul Quassa, Isuma TV; and Anne Lajla Utsi, International Sami Film Center.  After three days of sharing stories about the success of Indigenous Cinema in various parts of the world and strategizing for continued growth, the Film Conference concluded with a declaration drafted and presented as a statement from everyone in attendance. 

Solemn Declaration 

We the Indigenous screen storytellers
United in this northern corner of our mother, the earth
In a great assembly of wisdom we declare to all nations

We glory in our past

  • when our earth was nurturing our oral traditions
  • when  night sky evoked  visions animated in our dreams
  • when the sun and the moon  became our parents in stories told
  • when storytelling made us all brothers and sisters
  • when our stories fostered great chiefs and leaders
  • when justice was encouraged in the stories told

We will

  • hold and manage Indigenous cultural and intellectual property
  • be recognized as the primary guardians and interpreters of our culture
  • respect Indigenous individuals and communities
  • nourish knowledge from our traditions to modern screen appearance
  • use our skills to communicate with nature and all living things
  • through screen storytelling heal our wounds
  • through modern screen expression carry our stories to those not yet born

And thus through motion picture make the invisible visible again
We vow to manage our own destiny and recover our complete humanity in pride
In being Indigenous screen storytellers

Lead photo: