Thursday, January 28, 2010

Watch It: An Interview with Tito Naranjo

"Etching a new beginning from old songs.
Ancestral sounds navigating steady and sure
Across a celestial canvas with prayer bundles in hand
Singing welcoming chants.
It is the beginning of a simple
Wondrous gift called life."

- From the poem, Always Becoming

In all the interviews we've done over the year of filming one thing is clear, as Native people our spirits are connected to the earth. This earth conscious world view echos across Indian country with a simple and yet profound imperative, stewardship for the land we live on. From voices far and near - a Native Architect living in Seattle or an elder from Santa Clara Pueblo - this thread of earth consciousness has cultivated culture and re-enforced a sense of self among Native people. Through these voices we've begun to weave together a unique cultural story significant in it's contribution to our communities and the world. As Mr. Naranjo so eloquently stated, "seeking life" as our duty in order to create a balanced and whole life for ourselves and our communities.

Tito Naranjo is a Santa Clara Pueblo elder who teaches Native studies at the college level in Northern New Mexico. Naranjo is clear about who he is. He is a seventy year old Pueblo man who grew up roaming the mountains in Northern New Mexico looking for food to help feed his family. As a college professor, Tito generously shares his cultural knowledge with both Native and non-Native students with the understanding that cultural knowledge is a tool that has great importance in seeking that life of balance.

Mr. Naranjo's certainty about who he is, is why he was interviewed him for this film. Understanding land, culture and community inspires that certainty of self and has been a central theme in conceptualizing both the Always Becoming sculptures and now the film. As indigenous people enter a new decade, we are looking at issues that often times are at odds with our identity and that connection to earth. How do we hold onto cultural knowledge and use this information to navigate through our life singularly and as a community? Mr. Naranjo like many elders on the reservations and in urban areas are significant cultural anchors, they speak from their experiences offering a plethora of knowledge to future generations.

As the sculptures of Always Becoming start to dissolve, revealing layers of new textures, we are reminded of the voices of our ancestors who modeled a strong cultural foundation inspired by the earth we walk on.

Next month: A Glimpse

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