Onondaga

Injunuity is a collage of reflections on the Native American world, our shared past, our turbulent present, and our undiscovered future. From Columbus to the western expansion to tribal casinos, we are taught that the Native way, while at times glorious, is something of the past, something that needed to be replaced by a manifest destiny from across the ocean. But in a world increasingly short of real answers, it is time we looked to Native wisdom for guidance. It is time for some Injunuity.

Brothers Jeremy and Jerome Thompson grew up in two worlds--two cultures. As members of the Onondaga Tribe, the brothers grew up in the sovereign Onondaga Nation, located a few miles south of Syracuse, N.Y. In Lukas Korver’s latest documentary, The Medicine Game, Korver captures the unique bicultural lives of the Thompson brothers as they prepare to transition from high school to college, all while making a name for themselves as two of the best lacrosse players in America.  

“Lacrosse is their dream,” Korver said. “It’s their life.”

When you think of Native American music, do marching bands, trumpets, clarinets and flutes come to mind? If not, Cathleen O’Connell has a story for you.

In her latest documentary, Sousa on the Rez: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum, O’Connell uncovers a musical tradition that has largely been forgotten in America--the Native American marching band.

In Shelley Niro’s debut feature film, Kissed by Lightning, a Mohawk woman works through the grief surrounding the death of her husband by painting the stories he used to tell.

How much influence did that existing democracy have on our Founding Fathers and on documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? More than you know.

Lacrosse is a modern sport with deep roots in Native American cultures throughout North America. “[Today] It is the fastest growing sport in America,” explains Michelle Danforth (Oneida), co-producer of the new documentary film Sacred Stick. The documentary explains the origins of Lacrosse within Native American cultures; the spiritual background of the game, as well as stories from early European contact with the game.

The purchase of Manhattan Island from America’s original inhabitants has become a well-known fact in the average American’s trivia arsenal. What is likely lesser known about Native peoples in The Big Apple is the existence of a small community of Kahnawake Mohawk Indians from a nearby Canadian Reserve that has thrived within 10 square blocks of the city even into today.

When Michelle Danforth (Oneida) set out to begin her career, creating films was a distant aspiration. After graduating with an MBA focused on accounting, Danforth began working at Options for Independent Living, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities. Although she enjoyed marketing and finance, there was always a lingering interest in producing and creating films.

Patty Loew wants to change the role of Native Americans in the media.

Loew, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, spent 12 years as a co-anchor for ABC in Madison, Wis. She feels that it is important for Natives to be involved in both local and mainstream media.

“Radio and television are really culturally compatible with who we are as Native people,” said Loew.

“To be able to blend sound and picture, and be able to tell stories in the oral tradition, I think is just really in sync with who we are.”

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