The Spirit of Navajos
Here the daughters of the chapter chairman of the community decided to make a film showing “the old ways.” They chose their grandfather as subject. He was one of the best known “singers” (medicine men) in the area. The film opens with the old medicine man walking and wandering across the Navajo landscape, again digging and searching for roots and herbs which he is to use as part of a ceremony. We see him at one of the “camps” before a ceremony, eating and drinking. The sequence of the grandfather eating is the only one in which a face close-up is shown. It is apparent, however, that the shot was considered a humorous one, almost like a home movie in which one of the children sticks his tongue out at the camera. But even here the grandfather cannot have his eyes looking right at the camera, and we see an almost terrified sweeping back and forth of his black pupils as he tries to avoid looking straight at us.
We then see the making of a sand painting from beginning to end. We see the grandfather preparing the sand in his hogan, searching for the rocks with which to make the dried powder which is then dripped on the sand as paint, and we see part of the curing ceremony in which a “patient” appears. It was impossible for the Navajo to consider using a Navajo as a patient, so they chose our assistant, Chalfen, who agreed to reenact the part of a patient. The film ends with the grandfather walking from the hogan after his ceremony to his own camp.
-Sol Worth & John Adair
230MB | 21:23.814 | 592×448 | mkv