History of Native New York
The American Indian Community House
Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library


Storytelling is still a vital part of American Indian cultures.  For performers such as Spiderwoman Theater and Coatlique Theater Company storytelling is a key component for building a theater piece and an integral part of their indigenous communcity theater workshops.

Dr Venables
Dr. Venable - Lecture on Land Claims

Historian, Dr. Robert Venables is professor and Director of American Indian
Studies at Cornell University. Dr. Venables' lecture discusses the cultural
differences between the European and Indian's concept regarding the land
and land ownership.  To punctuate this discussion Dr. Venables examines the
works of several Native artists who convey cultural concepts. These
differences as well as the illegal and unjust taking of Indian land led to
the many Indian land claims against the United States government. In 1946
Congress created the Indian Land Claims Commission to adjudicate the
overwhelming number of cases Indians had filed and were continuing to file.
 By the time the commission expired thirty-three years later more than a
half billion dollars had been awarded.  Nevertheless, many cases remain pending
and many have yet to be filed.   Dr. Venables explains this complicated
history and examines both the historical and contemporary issues and the
legal relationship between the tribes and U.S. government.  Although the
primary focus is on the Haudenausaunee (Iroquois) Dr. Venables' includes
issues concerning all tribes specifically, citizenship, Indian-to-Indian
relationships, and the government's relationship with the tribes today.  Dr.
Venables provides a Native and global perspective on these concerns.
Dr. Venables worked with many people within the Native community in New
York City is a well-respected member of the community.

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HiDVL Call # HI2005.044_01

Johnny Moses
Johnny Moses (Tulalip) – Stories for Adults

Storytelling remains a strong force in Native American life. Moses' stories are from several different tribes and relate messages that informed the lives of Native people for hundreds of years. Moses is a Tulalip Indian raised in the remote Nuu-chah-nulth village of Ohiat on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., Cananda. He is a master storyteller, oral historian and traditional healer and shares his knowledge through storytelling, lectures and workshops. Moses, whose Indian name is Whis.stem.men.knee (Walking Medicine Robe), is fluent in eight Native languages and is a traveling ambassador for the northwest coast cultures. He also supports and is supported by his beloved elder, Aunt Vi Hilbert (Taqseblu), who is dedicated to preserving the Lushootseed language and culture.

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HiDVL Call # HI2005.008_01

High Steel Corn Meal
Recounting an Era – the Mohawk ironworker community in Brooklyn.

By the 1950s over 700 Mohawk ironworkers with their families were living in the Boerum section of Brooklyn, which they called "downtown Kahnawake" after one of their reservations in upstate New York. For years the Mohawks had commuted between their reservations in upstate New York and Canada and Brooklyn until many grew weary and moved to Brooklyn. Their community flourished with help from local merchants who began catering to their needs.
Dr. David Munroe Corey, the pastor of the Cuyler Presbyterian Church, opened his church to support community activities. In addition, Dr. Corey attracted worshippers by delivering services in Mohawk once a month, and in 1939, with the help of two parishioners, translated a hymnal into Mohawk. This appears to be the first time the Native people had a community located in a specific neighborhood in New York City.

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HiDVL Call # HI2005.009_01