Red Dust: a mixed-blood Dust Bowl childhood
Red Dust: a mixed-blood Dust Bowl childhood
My work has kept a steady concentration of attention to my ancestral lineage and special focus on my parents’ immediate histories/lives, including our labors and eco-ethos concerns. My parents had us when they were old enough to be grandparents and their experience as children has significant relevance today, including that of their mixed heritage and life in the open, the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl. My mother passed last winter, at ninety-one, and my father turned ninety-one recently. Though we have hoped to do this project for years, my father recognized that he was in school with speakers interviewed in the recent Ken Burns documentary and was saddened that Burns’ work did not explore the collective experience and focused more in the Anglo experience, solely. Obviously timely and potentially time limited, I am setting out to document my father’s primary history of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, while he is still able to contribute effectively. My dad, and the few remaining survivors like him, lived it, and their oral history is exceedingly unique and necessary to our understanding of the time. That he has lived to tell the tale is an authentically rich story.
Though many Native and mixed ancestry peoples experienced the advent of the this era and the remarkably longstanding existence within it, few, if any, have been recorded telling the tale. For years, visiting my family, I have been composing poems and creative writing that incorporated these details and published several along the way. I have a new book coming out in 2015 (my sixth poetry book) and am working on my second memoir (the first, just now going paperback, dealt with my younger years and my parent’s shared histories). So I have two new book projects that can incorporate the oral history we intend to document and the audio/visual work will surely result in filmography. I have a history of working in film, oratory, journaling, and photography dating back to my twenties and my work in Hollywood and these features of my work go hand in hand within this combined project. It has been my lifelong dedication to represent unrepresented mixed heritage culture and affect and this, too, allows for conceptual inclusiveness for the gap left in mainstream documentation.
For the capture of his oral history, I intend to bring him to the places he lived during the Dust Bowl: Boise City, Oklahoma; Baca County, Colorado; Peralta, New Mexico; Peacock, Texas, where his family picked other people’s cotton for a penny a pound during those formidable years, for on-site interviews, cultural research, and interactions, and his former homes up to his processing at Ft. Sill for World War II ending youth, as he knew it. While en route, we hope to create a bit of documentary history collective from his perspectives on-site where it began, including available sources while filming from these guys who knew it firsthand and tell it best. In September through December, this year, I intend to take him to these locations and set up audio/visual recording to document the stories. Each site visit should last for three to seven days, with each juncture allowing time to enlist any available additional speakers to add to the whole and yet to allow his voice to be the thematic device that permeates this work.
I believe this project can be executed for twenty thousand dollars. At ninety-one years of age, travel to remote locations is difficult. I would have to accompany him in his travel to and from Oklahoma to his home at either the Veteran’s Home (WWII Vet) or current Senior Trailer Park, then from Guthrie, Oklahoma to Boise City, Oklahoma; Baca County, Colorado; Peralta, New Mexico; and Peacock, Texas for documentary field site days with a small crew to assist me in documenting, and purchase of a Digital Bolex Cinema. If overfunded, the additional monies could afford additional equipment, the potential of longer stays, more fieldwork seeking additional speakers, and soundtrack work. This project seeks a $20,000 minimum. The minimum allows for one venture, the maximum allows for several site visits over a longer period of time for the more whole experience in capturing personal oral history.
This project is deeply meaningful to my own creative work, exceptionally meaningful to my father, and we believe the resulting works will be as meaningful to the audience as well.
Your support is sincerely welcome and is truly integral to the making of this work, so all major donors will receive credit listings within the resulting productions/publications.
I heartily thank you for considering contributing to this project and look forward to thanking you within the work ahead.
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