Set for August 25 at the Guadalupe

By Karla Lorena Aguilar
It’s about time. San An- tonio has the 10th largest population of urban Native Americans in the U.S., per capita. According to the 2018 Census updates, 64 percent of San Antonians were Latino/Hispanic and .7 percent identified as Native American or Alaska Native. Among Latinos, a large majority most likely have Native ancestry, yet most those bloodlines are invisible to the Census data.

That’s one of the reasons why American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions https://aitscm. org chose to produce the Talom Aptzai Film Festival Sunday, August 25, 2019 at the Guadalupe Theatre. The stories of the Native Americans in San Antonio, and beyond, are far too often erased from the history books. Or worse, incorrectly portrayed in those books, as well as in commercial cinema. AIT, for 25 years, has been working to preserve and protect the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples. So, what better way than to select sen- sitive and intelligent films to express the past, present and future of the Native people in Texas, and throughout the Americas.

Scott Pewenofkit, a member of the Kiowa tribe from Oklahoma, welcomed the opportunity to curate the nine-hour festival to create platforms for discussion. Talom Aptzai, meaning “ancient fire” in Pajalate (a Coahuiltecan language), refers to the custom of gathering around the fire to share stories among family.

Sharing stories of our history, traditions, and plights, is the concept behind the free film festival. A total of 17 films, short and feature length, will touch upon subjects ranging from spirituality to cultural appropriation, addictions, gender dysphoria and gender stereotypes, forced family separations, social and health inequities and unjust labor practices.

68 Voces: About the First Sunrise, is an animated series that seeks to promote the preservation of Mexico’s 68 indigenous language groups. As such, it is a re-telling of the creation of the first sunrise, as told in the Huichol language.

Red Hand, by Rod Pocowatchit, is an 80-minute film produced in 2017. The premise of the film is a man with the power to heal time who travels from the future to rescue a tech genius who is pivotal in saving the Native American race.

A Strike and an Uprising (in Texas), covers systemic institutional racism in Texas of the Latino pecan workers in San Antonio, and African-American university employees in Nacogdoches.

“My interest in Native film comes from a love of film- making and its ability to enrich our view of people and the world,” explains Pewenofkit. “Over the last several years, I’ve become interested in the use of media as a means to give an artistic voice to indigenous people, which is still rare in the film industry overall. The festival was curated to highlight the wide array of voices and types of movies that are part of Native cinema currently,” explained Pewenofkit. Settings for the 17 movies featured range from Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Canada, Mexico, to San Antonio.