Saturday, June 11 – Sunday, June 19

Saturday, June 11 & Sunday, June 12

Researchers spend the weekend in the Canyon De Chelly country (B14FF28P138).

Monday, June 13

Students discuss the topics of their films. Susie decides to make a film about weaving, featuring her mother, Alta Kahn. The Tsosie sisters decide that they would work together on a film about Sam Yazzie, their grandfather the medicine man. Johnny says he wants to make a film about a Navajo silversmith, while Al continues to talk about intrepid shadows and Mike about the lake. Worth also teaches the students to splice, and remarks,

The interesting thing I noticed today was the quickness with which everyone learned to splice. We had a half hour session in which I explained and demonstrated splicing. Everyone was asked to make 20 splices…Everyone was able to splice after a half hour of practice. After an hour they were making good splices (B14FF28P141).

Tuesday, June 14

Students see their rushes as well as their edited and spliced footage.  Later, students did individual editing work. Worth writes,

During the late afternoon showing of the first rushes of the footage that was shot last Thursday and Friday the class was unusually quiet. There seemed to be some difference between the first rushes and the last rushes. The first time that they saw their footage there was a great deal of laughing and giggling. I feel that they were anxious, tense, and didn’t know how to behave when looking at their own images on the screen. Now they laughed only at what seemed to me appropriate places, such as when the footage of John hanging clothes on the wash line appeared on the screen (B14FF28P152).

Wednesday, June 15

Worth shoots with Mike and Susie, while the rest of the students continue their work individually. While filming at Susie’s house, Worth is confronted with his own perceptions of cultural differences between himself and the Navajo.

Another thing that surprised me was how instantly ready the members of the family were to hold and to look through the camera. No fear of anything new – no feeling that they weren’t allowed to do it, or that they couldn’t do it. Yet they lived in this little hut – on dirt floors – working as their grandmothers did – and think nothing of holding a camera to their eye while sitting next to this old fashioned loom. But again why should it seem incongruous to them It’s my damned New York versus the savage mentality which belies my own feelings that everyone can be taught (by me?) to make a film and to use this simple instrument to make a picture (B14FF28PP168-9).

Thursday, June 16

Worth shoots with the Tsosie sisters and with Johnny, while others work independently. Here, he expresses some of his frustration and the difficulty of understanding why his students film in certain ways.

Again I noticed an inability on the part of these Navajo to know what to shoot. The unconnectedness of all their shooting is something that still amazes me…In an interview with Johnny Nelson today after we looked at his edited film, “Summer Shower.” I asked him how he would explain the idea of editing to Navajos if he were the teacher. He said (it’s on tape dated this day) that you can’t say idea in Navajo. Perhaps this is the problem with all the Navajo filmmakers, and perhaps this is why I keep running up against this stone wall of, “why are you shooting this?” I keep asking this question and not getting an answer (B1FF28P171).

Friday, June 17

Some students begin to shoot without observation by the researchers, while Worth accompanies the Tsosie sisters to their grandfather’s compound. Worth comments that

It seemed clear to me that these students work much better in the field alone. They don’t feel the need for any supervision…The Tsosie girls were also delighted with their morning’s work. I don’t know what they did but I saw their notes on the shots that they went to take and can check with these (B15FF28P179).

Later, they view the latest rushes.

Although everyone was anxious to get to the squaw dance they all stayed to watch the rushes. And these were extraordinary. Every one’s footage was technically superb. There were some shaky three-inch pans but otherwise everything was good (B14FF28P180).

Weekend: June 17 – 19

Community Squaw Dance. Researchers attend the squaw dance as,

Everybody, including most of my students have been heavily involved in preparations for this ceremony, and in attending the ceremony. There is a 3 day ceremony taking place at Juan Tsosie’s house where it begins at someone else’s house about 5 miles away and ending up at another house in the middle (B14FF28P184).

Johnny Nelson took photographs during the ceremony, which had unintended repercussions,

Saturday morning while we were on our trip to the Zuni Pueblo John told me that Dick told him that there had been what may be severe repercussions at the squaw dance. Dick said that many people came over and complained very bitterly about Johnny photographing the magical proceedings. It seems that Friday night during the singing the drumstick broke. This, of course, was attributed to the fact that Johnny photographed it. While Johnny was doing this movie making Friday I was taking still photographs of him using the movie camera. I was also very interested to observe that Johnny asked for permission every time he photographed a horse or a rider. Although his conversation with the various people that he photographed was in Navajo, it soon became quite apparent to me that he was explaining what he was doing…(B14FF28P185).


Back: June 6-10                                                                                         Next: June 20-25