Why do we honor our ancestors – Sparrowhawk

HS: Thank you for talking with us and making this important short story and film.  What was your impetus in making it?

SH: Life experiences and the similarities we have with the Mustang Spirit have inspired me to tell this story through a short video. Most of our recent ancestors lived through the rules and regulations of the urban life losing our own ancient traditional practices. That is being tamed, as the Mustang’s recent ancestors were tamed, the Mustang found a way to break into the wild and connect to its natural self. The mustang is now a wild animal and we shall follow in her/his footsteps in order to free our spirits.

HS: What is your biggest concern for the Native population in the future?

SH: First of all, letting everyone know that our new generation of Native peoples do not accept terms like American Indian and/or Native American to describe us. Although they are used interchangeable, those terms are still Eurocentric. We did not name this land America nor we are from India. Columbus’ ignorance shouldn’t reflect on our name. The common term we use amongst ourselves is just Native. But there are other acceptable terms such as First Nations. We need the majority of Non-Native peoples and governments to refer to us with a respectful term.

Becoming an Ancestor: The Mustang Way from Sparrowhawk Caught on Fire on Vimeo.

HS: What are some of the most upsetting historical elements from your past?

SH: It is very difficult to choose which part of the past is the most upsetting. But I have recently traveled to what remains of the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. There is a cemetery where nearly 200 of our children are buried. Most of them were from Southwestern and Plains Tribes/Nations. Between the years 1879 – 1918 over 10,000 children were taken from their families and forced them to cut their hair, change their names and forbid them to speak their native tongues. Many children died, others tried to escape, but they were too young to understand how far from home they were nor they had sufficient survival skills. So they died in the wilderness or killed by wild animals or shot by hunters. They never had a chance to reconnect with their families back home. The former prison barracks were turned into a school and founded by General Richard Henry Pratt with the blessing of the US Federal Government. His slogan was “Kill the Indian: Save the Man.” Remembering the chaotic experiences of the children at Carlisle is what makes me most sad.

HS: If you could change anything regarding relations with the Anglos or US government what would it be?SH: N/A

BN: Who is nDigiDreams and what led to your collaboration with them?SH:  Brenda Manuelito & Carmela Rodriguez from NDigiDreams are traveling around the country looking for unique stories from our different Native communities and they got in touch with our American Indian Community House and a few elders and myself gathered with Brenda & Carmela to complete a story only one can tell. **Sparrowhawk is a SAG actor who has starred in roles including Crazy Horse for an episode of Fox News’ Legends & Lies: The Real West,’  and the HBO pilot. ‘The Devil You Know.’

nDigiDreams presents  Becoming an Ancestor: The Mustang WayAn original Digital Story Telling by actor SparrowhawkHealing Our Communities One Story at a TimeSanta Fe, NMTucson, AZ