1929 Western film, ‘Redskin,’ screened at Scottsdale museum

Photo credit: Rödskinn (Redskin), 1929; Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History.

Catch a screening of one of the last silent films from Paramount Pictures, 1929’s “Redskin,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

“Redskin” tells the story of Wing Foot, a Navajo man whose education has placed him between two cultures, facing a choice between separatism or assimilation into mainstream white society.

It was one of the last silent films from Paramount Pictures and features both two-color and tinted print footage.

Typical for the time, the lead actors were not Native Americans, but the film remains unmatched for its use of authentic locations such as Canyon de Chelly and the adjacent Chinle Indian Boarding School, according to the museum’s website.

The film is described as significant for its sympathetic depiction of the struggle of Native Americans, the website states, as The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 newly recognized Native Americans as U.S. citizens, and the inherent social tensions of the time.

Although government policy had largely supported amalgamation, contrary views began to surface following World War I, a sentiment driven by the acknowledgment that nearly 17,000 Native Americans had fought. The shift in perspective led to a dawning appreciation of indigenous culture and the value of preservation.

Following the film, Arizona State University Master of Liberal Studies Program Assistant Director and faculty member, Angela Giron, will lead a discussion that examines the film’s place in history and the portrayal of such issues as racial identity, cultural appropriation, and the American Indian boarding schools.

This program is included with museum admission and free to museum members. Admission is free to ASU students with I.D.

Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is located in downtown Scottsdale at 3830 N. Marshall Way.

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