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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Feinstein Providence Campus to show new film, In the Shadow of the Crow

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- March 21, 2005 -- The University of Rhode Island's Feinstein Providence Campus will feature a local, independent film focused on the history, legacies and challenges facing the Narragansett Indians.

In the Shadow of the Crow: Legacies of the Narragansetts, is a documentary that probes the political, economic and cultural issues facing Narragansett Indians in the 21st century. Free and open to the public, the film will be shown at URI's Feinstein Providence Campus in the Paff Auditorium on Monday, April l8 at 7 p.m. The film is produced by Providence-based Shifting Visions Films, a small non-profit group comprised of professors and students.

Alexia Kosmider, a Providence resident and URI English instructor who teaches Native American Literature at the University's Providence Campus, holds the vision for “Shadow” and adopted the role of producer. “I wanted to dispel some very out-dated beliefs about the Narragansetts with a documentary based on facts,” said Kosmider. “My hope is for the film to be used as an educational tool in colleges and museums.”

At the core of the 80-minute documentary are the issues of tribal sovereignty and the difficulties of preserving ancestral traditions in a contemporary culture. Kosminder said that the disturbing July 14, 2003 “Smoke Shop” incident that took place on Narragansett land was an example of the longstanding dispute between the Narragansetts and the State of Rhode Island.

“This incident has a much larger repercussion than this localized event. The confiscation of tribal property showed how state government limits or sanctions tribal independence and the rights of any American to act independently and maintain cultural integrity within the larger framework of mainstream culture. All Indian tribes as well as American civil liberties are being questioned today.”

Kosminder said that “In the Shadow of the Crow” shares tribal cultural beliefs and what they perceive to be the difficulties of being an Indian in a state where Indians are not highly visible. She hopes it will also raise discussion about the attrition of every citizen’s civil liberties and their correlation with the classic struggles of all indigenous tribes.

To write the screenplay and direct the film, Kosmider worked with Leslie B. Langley, who was awarded an Emmy for “Outstanding Public Service Announcement” in 1989 for Rosie's Place: “Rosie's More Than Just a Shelter.” Langley and Kosmider also involved a group of students and professionals at the URI Multimedia Center at the Providence Campus to work on the film's production.

The URI film and production volunteer crew included videographers Victor Gonzalez, who holds a Bachelors degree in psychology and a minor in video art from URI, André Charpentier a Feinstein College of Continuing Education student majoring in film studies, and Debbie Monuteaux, a URI student majoring in Women's Studies with a minor in film studies. Donna O'Brien, a student from RISD, is the Shifting Visions photographer.

Some of the many Native Americans who worked on the film include: Joanne Shenandoah, singer/songwriter and daughter of revered elder and Wolf Clan mother Maisie Shenandoah of the Oneida Nation – Iroquois Confederacy; and Joy Harjo, enrolled member of the Muskogee Tribe, who is primary narrator of the film.

This event is co-sponsored by the URI Feinstein College of Continuing Education Office of Student Services and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.