By Randolph Lewis
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Additional resources for Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker
This proﬁle of a young Abenaki singer with an evident passion for Native rights caught the eye of several producers working for the nfb, one of whom was Robert Verrall. 0pt P ——— Normal P PgEnds: , (28 ABENAKI BEGINNINGS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 29 , (29) Lines: 259 to figure 6. Obomsawin interviewed on Canadian television about the proposed canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, ca. 1966. Courtesy of the ﬁlmmaker. of the nfb.
The ﬁlmmaker grew up a few hours north across the Canadian border from the best-selling writer, whose Abenaki family name, Bowman, is an Anglicized version of Obomsawin, making them distant relatives. 30 For both of them, the popularity of Northwest Passage suggests a great deal about the general culture of Indian hating in which they grew up as well as the speciﬁc degradation of Abenaki culture that they were forced to witness around them in the 1940s. It is no wonder that both would devote their lives to getting Native perspectives into wider consideration, whether through writing, as in Bruchac’s case, or through cinema, story, and song, as in Obomsawin’s.
33 Fighting back was the key to her transformation, a lesson that would echo throughout her later work as a ﬁlmmaker and storyteller. She remembers how she responded to racial slurs: “I never believed what I was told I was. I knew that there was a lot of wrong there. ’ I was just a ﬁghter. ”34 She was tired of hiding her face behind her textbook when the children glared at her during history lessons; she was tired of children ganging up on her when she came onto the playground for recess; she was tired of planning secret routes to get home without being followed, taunted, and struck.