A documentary film on the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation is the third in a series on the eight American Indian tribes of North Carolina to be produced by the Native American Resource Center at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Dr. Stanley Knick
The film, “Our People: The Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation,” was released in October, according to Dr. Stan Knick, director of the Resource Center. Dr. Knick said the documentaries are designed to shed light on the 100,000 American Indians of North Carolina.
“As an anthropologist, my job is to let each tribe tell its story,” Dr. Knick said. “I have heard complaints about the lack of resources on American Indians of the state, These are designed to be used by public school teachers.”
The Occaneechi Band is centered in Alamance County near Burlington, N.C. Already completed are a documentaries on the Sappony Tribe and an introductory video for the entire project. Another video on powwow music originated in Dr. Knick’s class in “Video Ethnography.”
Dr. Knick turned to video about 10 years ago, and he launched this project in 2005 with support from the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs. Several school systems, including Robeson County, have purchased the videos as well as the North Carolina Museum of History.
At 28.5 minutes they fit into a 30-minute broadcast television slot and are aired on UNCP’s television station, WNCP-TV, which cablecasts them to about 100,000 homes. Dr. Knick’s technical collaborator in the project is WNCP-TV engineer George Johnson.
“I can’t say enough about George’s contribution to this project,” Dr. Knick said. “He got me started on video editing, and he continues as co-producer and videographer.”
There are many collaborations woven into the fabric of the documentaries. Native American Resource Center Associate Museum Curator Becky Goins and student Sunshine Costanzo contributed to “Listen to the Drum: A Closer Look at American Indian Powwow Music,” which was released in 2006.
Dr. Knick notes there is history between UNCP and the eight tribes.
“There is a long connection between this University and all these groups,” he said. “A friend once told me he thought all Indian school teachers were Lumbee because they were all trained here.”
The documentary film project builds on those ties.
“This project is a really good one,” Dr. Knick said. “It’s good for UNCP to reach out to every corner of the state.”
The Lumbee Tribe, the state’s largest and headquartered in Pembroke, is in the works and due out in 2009.
“Each is a large project,” Dr. Knick said. “It begins with a meeting with the video committee of each tribe.”
When the project is complete, North Carolinians should know more about the eight non-federally recognized tribes and about its own history.
As poet and Saponi Tribe speaker Vivette Jeffries-Logan said in “Our People:” “We’re still here. We’ve been hiding in plain sight.”