The Ramah Navajo Student Cultural Leadership Filmmaking Program
The Ramah Navajo Student Cultural Leadership Filmmaking Program engaged students of the rural Navajo community and Pine Hill School ages 12 to 18 in regular one- and two-day intensive workshops in leadership, filmmaking skills personal narrative and cultural storytelling.
Students in this program conducted the interviews of key community elders, asking them to tell stories of their childhood and of the Ramah community and history. They operated the cameras and the audio equipment and shot the cut-away footage for the resulting film, helping to tell the stories captured throughout the spring. The program was consistently bilingual, in Diné and in English. The resulting footage was cut into a single 22-minute film shared in assemblies for the Pine Hill student body of the junior and high schools, gatherings of community members and as part of the Between Two Worlds, exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience.
Over the course of the student-driven interviews, Ramah Navajo elders offered advise to the students, suggestions and historic reflections about growing up in Ramah, about living in two worlds, about the traditional worlds of the Ramah people and their efforts to achieve sustaining self-determination.
The elders underscored how stories can help the younger generation to “know who they are” and thereby find additional means to be strong enough to walk in both the traditional world of their people while being able to be successful in the outside American world. Each elder spoke passionately about the necessity to convey to the younger community members the traditional Ramah ways, beliefs, lifestyles, language, practices, ethics and stories of the past. The students presented this final film and its stories to the community, their student peers and others with pride and ownership.