Favorite

Trail of Tears, in clay 

UALR filmmaker animating Cherokee story.

click to enlarge FILMMAKER: Roy Boney Jr. uses clay animation.
  • FILMMAKER: Roy Boney Jr. uses clay animation.


A clay animation film about the Trail of Tears using the Cherokee language is being made in Little Rock this summer by a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Roy Boney Jr., 27, who is working with the university’s Sequoyah Research Center, will present the story of Cherokee removal from the Southeast through the eyes of a young girl on the Trail of Tears.

From the 1830s to the 1850s, nearly 50,000 people, members of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek, Seneca, and other Eastern tribes, were forced to leave their land for Indian Territory in Oklahoma. The Cherokees traveled overland through Arkansas and by water, up the Arkansas and White rivers; the rigors of the journey, much of it in winter and on foot, killed 4,000 Cherokees.

Boney is a descendant of some of those Cherokees who survived the journey. In his work at the Sequoyah Research Center, an archive of Indian publications and other documents created by UALR professors Jim Parins and Daniel Littlefield Jr., Boney studied old letters and journals and found “the story itself was complicated.”

“A lot of what is written [about the Trail of Tears] is academic, and will never be read by the general public,” Boney said. “The thing I wanted to stay away from is the stereotypical ‘people walking along a trail falling down dead.’ ”

Instead, Boney is taking the story of the Trail of Tears “from a big anonymous event to a more personal level” to tell the story, with the help of subtitles, in a way that will be easily understandable to a wide range of viewers.

Clay animation uses three‑dimensional clay figures; the stop‑motion process takes still shots of the figures in a progression of poses to portray movement.

Though he will travel to Oklahoma to record the Cherokee speakers, Boney will animate the film, tentatively titled “One Spring Day,” at the Sequoyah Research Center.

Boney worked in animation previously in Oklahoma, at the American Indian Resource Center in Tahlequah. There he met Joseph Erb, who was using animation to teach Indian youths about technology and their culture. Together, Boney and Erb had students research Cherokee and Creek Muscogee legends, write them up, and do voices for the animated segments, which required them to learn Cherokee and Creek Muscogee words. “Most of them had never heard of the stories,” Boney said, and felt they knew more about their grandparents as a result of the project.

In his spare time, Erb started an animated film of his own, called “Messenger,” and Boney joined him in the work. The film, spoken in Cherokee, is based on a Cherokee belief that the owl is the messenger of death. Though the animation was a little crude (the budget for the film was nil), the result was powerful. Last October, “Messenger” was shown at the International Cherokee Film Festival in Tahlequah, where one of the student animations won a top prize. “Messenger” has been screened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Montreal, and Tehran, Iran, at the International Animation Film Festival. Boney said the Iranians were amazed that Indians still existed, thinking they had gone the way of cowboys.

As well as being a piece of art, Boney’s film has the goal of furthering language preservation, a serious situation in American Indian culture.

“A lot of traditional ways aren’t really adhered to any more by anyone,” Boney said. Boney is keenly aware of the shrinking number of people able to speak a native language. At last count there were about 8,000 Cherokee speakers, most of them older people. The situation is drastic, said Littlefield. “Some tribes are down now to one or two speakers.”

With funding of nearly $10,000 from the Bay and Paul Foundations, Boney plans to finish the film by late August. A preview of the work in progress will be shown at the Arkansas Trail of Tears Association meeting in Little Rock on July 22. The finished work will be shown in Albuquerque, N.M., in September and at the Sequoyah Research Center Symposium in October.


Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Learning to love North Little Rock in Park Hill

    • My father in law built this house from WW2 materials he bought cheap. The walls…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: A killing in Pocahontas

    • my name is kimberly some parts are true some are not travis was a victum…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • We are not asking you to place a stent in the Democrats Heart nor to…

    • on December 4, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation