Tribesourcing Southwest Films

Counter-Narrations and Reclamation




Indigenous knowledge, audiovisual records, cultural sovereignty , cultural reclamation , 1940s–2010s , media literacy


As a work in progress, the Tribesourcing Southwest Film Project seeks to decolonize midcentury US educational films about the Native peoples of the Southwestern United States by recording counter-narrations from cultural insiders. These films originate from the American Indian Film Gallery, a collection awarded to the University of Arizona (UA) in 2011. Made in the mid-twentieth century for the US K–12 educational and television markets, these 16 mm Kodachrome films reflect mainstream cultural attitudes of the day. The fully saturated-color visual narratives are for the most part quite remarkable, although the male "voice of God" narration often pronounces meaning that is inaccurate or disrespectful. At this historical distance, many of these films have come to be understood by both Native community insiders and outside scholars as documentation of cultural practices and lifeways—and, indeed, languages—that are receding as practitioners and speakers pass on. The project seeks to rebalance the historical record through collaborative digital intervention, intentionally shifting emphasis from external perceptions of Native peoples to the voices, knowledges, and languages of the peoples represented in the films by participatory recording of new narrations for the films. Native narrators record new narrations for the films, actively decolonizing this collection and performing information redress through the merger of vintage visuals and new audio.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Melissa Dollman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Melissa Dollman is an A/V archivist, researcher, and PhD candidate at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Project Manager on the Tribesourcing Southwest Film project, at

Rhiannon Sorrell, Diné College

Rhiannon Sorrell is Instruction and Digital Services Librarian in the Kinyaa'áanii Charlie Benally Library at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.

Jennifer L. Jenkins, University of Arizona

Jennifer L. Jenkins is Professor of Literature, Film, and Archival Studies and Research Social Scientist in the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. She is Principal Investigator for the NEH-funded project.


The Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona. 2021. “American Indian Film Gallery.” Archived at:

First Archivists Circle. 2006. Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. Archived at:

Kovach, Margaret. 2010. Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Lawson, Gerry. 2017. “Indigitization: It Takes a Community.” Presentation, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Archived at:

Library of Congress. n.d. “Care, Handling, and Storage of Motion Picture Film.” Archived at:

Library of Congress. n.d. “Recommended Formats Statement.” rfs/moving.html. Archived at:

Local Contexts. n.d. “TK Labels.” Archived at:

Posner, Miriam. 2016. “How Is a Digital Project Like a Film?” In The Arclight Guidebook to Media History and the Digital Humanities, edited by Charles R. Acland and Eric Hoyt, 184–94. Falmer: REFRAME.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People. 2nd ed. London: Zed Books.

Tribesourcing Southwest Film Project. 2021. Archived at: https://perma. cc/2RSB-AKHT.




How to Cite

Dollman, Melissa, Rhiannon Sorrell, and Jennifer L. Jenkins. 2021. “Tribesourcing Southwest Films: Counter-Narrations and Reclamation”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 5 (1).

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.