Ostrander Auditorium was home to yet another indigenous film installment on Monday, with the screening of “Black Indians: An American Indian Story.” The film aims to explore the issues of racial identity between peoples of both Native American and African American heritage.
“Black Indians: An American Indian Story” depicts what brought Native and African Americans together, what drove them apart, and how these struggles can still persist in the 21st century.
The film is narrated by James Earl Jones, a Black Indian himself.
Megan Heutmaker, Director of Multicultural Affairs, and BalenciaSariah Crosby, the head of African American Affairs, dually headed the film screening.
The month of February serves as Black History Month all across the nation, so choosing a film that shines a light on not only Indigenous people, but Indigenous black people, was of utmost importance to them.
“Jones narrates the film and talks about the African American community and the American Indian community and their connection. The film does an outline of his discovery of his descendancy but also how these communities have worked together and were pitted against each other,” Heutmaker said.
While each of the indigenous film screenings depict different life stories, they all share a common thread of education and insight that can prove meaningful and worthwhile to its audience. More specifically, the films are chosen with MSU’s American Indian or Indigenous students in mind, ensuring that connections stay close and bonds stay strong within the community.
Even if you may not come from an Indigenous background, Heutmaker thinks that seeing movies that tell stories like these are vital.
“Information is power, and we’re at a place where we’re gaining information all the time. For me, the more information we can get into people’s hands that can help you think critically, look at things differently, hear different perspectives I’m all into that. I think that’s really important,” Heutmaker said.
After the film screenings, the Multicultural Center offers viewers to sit in for a Q&A session with Heutmaker and Crosby to discuss the film and its message.
“It’s usually just a time for people to talk through or process what we just watched. Usually that’s something myself or BalenciaSariah, or we’ll do. Process through and answer any questions that might come up for people as they watch the film,” Heutmaker said.
A common misconception regarding racism, according to Heutmaker, is that many people deny others’ experiences and perspectives just because they’ve never gone through it firsthand. But just because you haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it’s not a real problem many others face.
“Often we get trapped in our bubbles, and we lose sight that there’s other perspectives and other lived experiences. And when we make those connections with others, we can help break down some of those barriers between us,” Heutmaker said.
Header Photo: Students watching the latest Indigenous Film Screening on campus at Minnesota State. This isn’t the first screening, and won’t be the last, due to its growing popularity. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Joey Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org