Native American Educational Media, Stay Tuned!

Native American Educational Media, Stay Tuned!

Shawna Begay is currently studying for her PhD in Educational Technology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also works as a Graduate Assistant.

Date Posted: 
2012-10-04 00:00

Blog Series:


The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 5-8, 2012 was a great experience for the Native American Media producers. Myself, as an aspiring educational media producer, this conference with Vision Maker Media brought together many creative media artists. I was able to meet some new friends and reconnect with old friends within the Native Media network of people.

Vision Maker Media is going through a re-branding of their name and will no longer be known as Native American Telecommunications.  It will be turning into, “Vision Maker Media.” Vision Maker Media has been around as long as I have been alive and founded by Mr. Frank Blythe. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Blythe the year he retired from Vision Maker Media in San Francisco at the American Indian Film Festival. Since then, I’ve always been intrigued by the efforts this company is doing to help Native American’s tell their own stories by funding and distributing educational media.

The library that Vision Maker Media houses is in the hundreds, perhaps even thousands with new developments every year. I was able to meet many of the producers and directors of various projects that are being funded by Vision Maker Media from all over the United States including Alaska!

I learned more about what Vision Maker Media does, how it operates, how it’s funded and what their initiatives and goals are for the future. Assistant Director of Vision Maker Media , Ms. Georgiana Lee gave a presentation on “Supporting the Production of Native Content.” Her presentation explained how Vision Maker Media supports Native content by offering training and professional development opportunities to Native Filmmakers, which I was able to be a part of with my internship sponsored by Vision Maker and Vegas PBS. Vision Maker also strives to get videos developed in order to get broadcast play with various PBS stations across the country.

Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, Shirley Sneve gave and overview of the special initiatives that Vision Maker is working on which includes, “Growing Native, American Graduate, Native Word Past and Present, and Women and Girls Lead. All videos that are educational and are to be shown through local PBS stations. I personally gave a short presentation on my work with Vegas PBS and the American Graduate video I produced this past summer entitled, “Helping Native Americans Graduate,” which is slated to premiere on Vegas PBS in November.

Overall the NAMAC Conference brought together media makers from all over the country. It was an opportunity to share ideas, see new innovations in media developments and learn more about what other organizations are doing, utilizing media for different purposes. I was also pleased to see one of my former students making headway in Vision Makers initiatives. Blue Tarpelechee is someone to keep an eye and ear on for future Native media projects.

While at the conference, I attended two sessions: “Teaching and Learning Media and the Arts,” and “Youth Media Networks: How We’re Connected.” It was interesting to see and hear about how schools are incorporating media development into their curriculum in order to help students gain skills in media making as well as use this art form to hone their skills in other subject areas. Media is even being used to help “at risk” kids do better in school and be more collaborative and creative. Some programs even highlighting diversity as an asset among youth and allowing the youth to produce videos about culture and other topics of interest for school aged children.

Overall, the conference and information was awesome. Being able to attend this conference has given me more inspiration and drive to keep doing what I am doing. My goal is to develop educational Media for Native Communities. This is not an old concept, however I’m glad that I can be a part of the Native American Educational Media movement that is occurring right now.

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