Thursday, February 24, 2011

6 Generations - Story of Chumash Women

From Santa Ynez Valley News:
Audiences at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival applauded “6 Generations,” a movie that brings Chumash history to life.

The film, available on DVD at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, features performances by Ernestine Ygnacio De Soto, a living Barbareno Chumash descendant.

Her mother was the last Chumash native speaker, and her grandmother and great-grandmother helped anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and John P. Harrington understand the Chumash language in the early part of the 20th century. These early recordings can also be heard at the museum.

The film’s producer, museum anthropologist John Johnson, shares screenwriting credits with De Soto.

“History is often told using information from the dominant culture,” Johnson says, but De Soto’s story is told through the voices of generations of Chumash women.

With “6 Generations,” De Soto says she is “honoring her children, her ancestors, and herself,” by keeping the flame of Chumash history alive. She and her family are not members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

This film enhances her one-woman performance with rare, historic photographs and recordings of the Chumash language and songs, as De Soto becomes each of six women in her family covering 200 years of Chumash life in Santa Barbara.

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