The Northern Paiutes are a First Nations People who used to claim a third of Oregon as their homeland until the mid-nineteenth century. In older and even recent texts, white historians have represented the Northern Paiutes as a demonic and destitute People, or as “Snakes,” who were responsible for baseless acts of savagery against the white settlers of Oregon. This documentary intends to uproot this injurious “Snake” image to reveal the lost history of a tremendous struggle between the Paiutes, encroaching rival tribes, white settlers and the US government. Combining an array of visual, scholarly, oral and archeological evidence, this film strives to transform the negative historical image of the Paiutes to that of a people who put up an astounding fight to protect their homeland as invaders depleted their resources and threatened their ancient way of life. The time period of 1855-1868 would come to shape the perception and fate of the Northern Paiutes for over a century. By reevaluating the events of this time period concerning territorial claims, the origins of the Snake War, the demonized Chief Paulina and unacknowledged acts of genocide, a new Northern Paiute image may be achieved that will aid in revitalizing the Paiutes’ contemporary cultural identity. This documentary was made as a class project for the Robert D. Clark Honors College colloquium Decolonizing Research: The Northern Paiute.
A few film stills...