The West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s movie series will continue on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005, with two showings at 1 and 4 p.m. in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. This month’s movie is being shown to coincide with national Native American Month. The film series is free and open to the public.
The feature-length, award-winning documentary, Kanehsatake: 270 years of Resistance, (1994, 120 minutes) is set in the thick of the armed confrontation between Native American Mohawks and Canadian government forces during a 1990 standoff in the Mohawk village of Kanehsatake near the village of Oka in Quebec. The two-and-a-half month ordeal received brief national attention when the Mohawk warriors of Kahnawake, in support of their brothers from nearby Kanehsatake, temporarily held the busy Mercier Bridge leading to Montreal.
The conflict began when developers wanted to construct a luxury housing development and expand a private golf course into the Pines, part of the Mohawk Nation’s land. Tensions flared as Mohawks were once again fighting for their sovereignty. After a police officer was killed in a raid to expel the Mohawks from the Pines, the situation spiraled out of control. In scene after scene, the drama escalates as the Quebec police are replaced by units from the Canadian army.
Most journalists covering the crisis were either evacuated or forcibly removed. Native American filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin spent the final weeks of the standoff without a crew, shooting on video and using the slow speed on her sound recorder to stretch out her limited supply of audio tape. Her detailed portrayal of the Mohawk community places the Oka crisis within the larger context of Mohawk land rights dating back to 1535, when France claimed the site of present-day Montreal which had been the Mohawk village of Hochelaga.
The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported on the film “. . . Obomsawin has documented sympathetically yet responsibly, and from a unique perspective what history may judge to be the most significant event to take place on Canadian soil since the Second World War.”
The film series will continue next month with four days of movies for kids beginning Tuesday, Dec. 27, and running through Friday, Dec. 30. For more information about the free film series or other events at the Cultural Center, call (304) 558-0162.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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Deputy Commissioner/Communications Manager
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone (304) 558-0220, ext. 120
Fax (304) 558-2779