Augsburg News

News Archives - 2000

Augsburg College Music Department creates music for Native American documentary

Nov. 16, 2000

A film featuring the music of Augsburg College faculty and students will debut at the American Indian Film festival in San Francisco. The film, title, Return to the Circle: Gewi Tah Bi Win, is continuously enhanced by Native music that was arranged by Augsburg Professor Robert Stacke and Augsburg student Brendan Anderson.

Stacke visited the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota and recorded the vocal sounds of the drum circles. After transcribing the vocal music using a notation program, Julie Johnson, Augsburg music student, played the Native music on the flute throughout the video. Music students Brendan Anderson, Linnea Mohn and Paul Rouker played Native percussion parts.

The film, directed by Richard Reeder, is the story of the Anishinabe peoples' journey toward health. Through the lives of one family, it shows how the people of White Earth create unique solutions to common problems. As they work to improve their lives, their journey as a circle for young and old; past and present; and land and spirit, is discovered.

The American Indian Film Institute (AIFI) is a non-profit media arts center founded to promote an understanding of Native American culture, traditions, and issues. Some feel 20th century media has created and maintained detrimental stereotypes of Native Americans; however, in film Native Americans can preserve and record their heritage and replace damaging stereotypes with images that reflect the complexity of Native Americans.

AIFI is an educational resource center that provides events such as the American Indian Film Festival Silver Anniversary Season which will be held November 9-17, 2000. This festival, presented at San Francisco's historic Palace of Fine Arts, gives an audience of nearly 5,000 an opportunity to see films by and about American Indians.

The goals of AIFI are to encourage both Native and non-Native filmmakers to bring the historically excluded culture of Native voices, viewpoints, and stories to mainstream media; to develop audiences; and to promote an accurate portrayal of Native Americans in the media.

The AIFI envisions a multicultural society that is enriched by the perspectives of Native Americans in the media, and in which audiences of all cultural backgrounds have an opportunity to view, discuss, and learn from each other's history and cinema.

The music of Augsburg College music faculty and students is also featured in a promotional video for the Rainforest Café and an employment video for Fingerhut.