Golden State Gourd Society (1973)

Members of the Pan-Indian men’s organization, Golden State Gourd Society, discuss the history of the group, how members are invited to join, and its value to them as Natives in the diaspora. Followed by an induction ceremony.

Various head and shoulder and close-up shots of a middle-aged Native man with short hair speaking to the camera while standing in front of cork board with flyers for California State University Long Beach, maps, etc.,; the camera starts and stops a few times; (at 10:15) several shots of a Pawnee man of similar age with short hair, wearing sunglasses, addresses the camera; (at 11:29) close-up of a beaded necklace on another younger man, then the rings on his hand, and camera pans up to his face and longer wrapped braids; (at 13:03) shots of another Native (from Oklahoma) man with short hair and glasses addressing the camera; (at 15:01) shots of a middle-aged Omaha man in a cowboy hat and glasses addressing the camera; camera goes blank for a bit; (at 17:09) first man interviewed addresses the assembled group of men on a mic in what looks to be a gym with a boxing ring; camera pulls back to show the president (Oklahoma man with glasses) sitting next to him with a guitar, the man with the cowboy hat and another man fit a large, red sash around the inductee’s waist and over his shoulder with a beaded bandolier; different shot of the cowboy hat man speaking to the inductee as the main speaker continues in background; the inductee turns around to face the crowd while holding a staff with a feather and beadwork on it in one hand, and a rattle in the other; the president stands beside him and camera pans over to the drum circle; closer views of the drummers playing and back to the three men from the ceremony dancing in line around the room, back to a close up of drummers, back to the men dancing (including a close-up of beaded boots) and then wider shot of more men dancing behind them now; back to drummers’ faces; and then a nice wide shot of the whole room, and then individual dancers; back to the room after the ceremony ends and the inductee shakes all the dancers’ hands walking past in a line; back to various shots of the drummers, drummer behind; close-up of boys’ faces; various shots of women in attendance, then back to various shots of dancers; close-up of one man’s metals pinned to his sash; another’s rings and rattle, another man’s U.S. Marines and medic insignias on his sash and his beaded bolo tie; another man’s beaded bolo; close-ups of a young woman and a baby; the line of women and girl dancers behind the drum circle and male singers; close-up of an elder man in a cowboy hat looking directly into the camera, then over to two more men next to him; close-up of a man’s necklace with metal bells and a bear’s claw (?) then up to his eyes; shots of seated women and men in the audience; shot down the line of men singers; male singers moving around the room; camera shoots the first interviewee’s body as he sings and shakes his rattle, then the same of another man; back to the camera moving from singer to singer and around the group; a ceremonially dressed woman dancing, and then to other women dancing in a line, close-up of a woman watching.


"It comes from a reel of outtakes from a Los Angeles TV station that was preparing a report on off-reservation Indians in Los Angeles. It was filmed at the powwow of the Many Trails Indian Club of Los Angeles in 1973.  For the same report the TV crew filmed a 'How to Make Fry Bread' and 'Many Trails Indian Club of Los Angeles' segments found elsewhere in the (Tribesourcing and) American Indian Film Gallery website(s).  This latter group has a website; Many Trails seems to have dissolved some time ago."  -- (Paraphrase) J. Fred MacDonald

See also: Joan Weibel Orlando, Indian Country, L.A.: Maintaining Ethnic Community in Complex Society (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 210 and following.

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