53 minutes | Oct 15, 2018

We Are Birds: A California Indian Story (dir. Albert Chacon)

For many indigenous people living in the US today, the past had been cut off from them. We Are Birds Director Albert Chacon discovered this history through the tradition of birdsinging – bird songs are the oral tradition of passing down the family’s story through song and dance. The old rituals designed to keep history and spirit of the family and tribe alive.

“Ay, every generation, every man is a part of his past. He cannot escape it, but he may reform the old materials, make something new –“ – Rudolfo Anaya

As Chacon discovered the traditions, he began talking with other birdsingers and discovered others in the same situation. There men and women were also finding out about their history through this tradition and building new ways to (re)create ritual and community meaning. We Are Birds is the result of interviews at powwows and other events on Southern California reservations.

Here is our conversation with Chacon and several birdsingers in this documentary and you can watch the film on Vimeo or visit it’s Facebook page.


Host Jonathan Schwartz is joined by:

Albert Chacon (Writer, Director, Editor)

Derek Duro (Head Birdsinger, Dancer)

Frankie Morreo (Birdsinger, Dancer)

Joanelle Romero (Founder, CEO Red Nation Celebration Inst, Red Nation Film Festival)

Chris Finley (USC Assistant Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity)


This podcast is part of a series on Indigenous films in partnership with the Red Nation Celebration Institute, and the Red Nation Film Festival. It is brought to you by Price Video Services and USC Bedrosian Center, and continues ongoing efforts to bring policy and its impact into the public discourse.

Sound supervision by the Brothers Hedden.

Find more at www.usc.edu/ppr

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