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From Book to Film
ONEIDA NATION HOMELANDS - The history of how American Indians are portrayed in the mainstream culture is about to change. The Oneida Indian Nation has green lighted its first theatrical feature film; it was announced Tuesday by Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises.
"First Allies" tells the true story of the Oneidas, one of the six American Indian nations comprising the Iroquois Confederacy, which sided with the colonists in their fight for freedom. It is a vivid account of the American Revolution's forgotten heroes, who risked their homeland, their culture and their lives to join in a war that gave birth to a new nation - at the ultimate expense of their own.
Financed entirely by the Oneida Indian Nation, "First Allies" has attracted an A- list production team. Mr. Halbritter will produce with Alex Siskin (Mr. Deeds); Sid Ganis, former President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and a veteran producer (Akeelah and the Bee) and studio executive, is executive producer. Emmy nominated Kees Van Oostrum (Miss Rose White, Gettysburg) directs from a script by Bob Burris (The Toy). The film is based on the book "Forgotten Allies" The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution by history professors Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin.
Casting is underway throughout Indian Country for the action-filled war epic, which starts production in early Fall in Central New York State on many of the actual locations of the exciting historical events.
"In the past, we used American Indian runners to spread important messages," says Mr. Halbritter. "But in today's world, film is the most powerful messaging medium of our mainstream culture. "First Allies" provides the perfect opportunity to relay the story of the Oneida Indian Nation to audiences worldwide, while also telling one of the lesser-known and most riveting stories about the founding of the United States of America. We are thrilled and honored to be embarking on this exciting project with an incredibly talented production team, and we are equally proud to be bringing movie-making to Central New York."
“What a great movie story!”
says executive producer Sid Ganis. "It's full of familial emotion, the politics of the time and the action and adventure of the founding of our new nation - all set against the pristine beauty of Central New York State."
"First Allies" depicts a period when American Indian history was at a crossroads. The Oneida way of life was threatened by the gathering storm of dissent and bitterness between the colonists and the British monarchy. After maintaining their neutrality for as long as possible and faced with imminent destruction of their homelands, Oneida leaders opted to lend their considerable tactical expertise and formidable manpower to the colonists. It was a decision that drove a stake into the heart of the Iroquois Confederacy as tribes were pitted against each other on the battlefield.
"First Allies" will explore the political savvy and tactical brilliance of American Indian Nations during the Revolutionary War including the pivotal role of Oneida Chief Han Yerry and his family in the battle of Oriskany; the colonists' successful defense, with the help of their Oneida allies, of Ft. Stanwix; and the polarizing atmosphere which pitted Native Americans against their brethren.
"First Allies" is the latest in a series of high profile outreach activities generated by the Oneida Nation, all designed to draw attention to the beauty of Native American culture and the many contributions of the Oneida people.
Under Mr. Halbritter's leadership, the Oneida Nation endowed a professorship at Harvard Law School for teaching American Indian law; presented the first-ever American Indian-sponsored float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; produced the entertainment special "The World of American Indian Dance" on the NBC Network; was one of the major donors of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian; earned the Conde Nast "Most Excellent Resort" and "Most Excellent Golf Resort" awards; hosted the PGA TOUR Turning Stone Resort Championship, the first regularly scheduled (and first-ever "green") PGA TOUR event to be held on tribal lands; produced the award-winning 3D animated short film Raccoon and Crawfish which screened at the Cannes Film Festival; worked closely with the diversity departments at nearly all the major broadcast networks and studios to underwrite internships and employment opportunities for American Indians; and produced a Grammy winning album.
posted July 20, 2011 8:30 am edt
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