Friday, May 6, 2011

We visit Jeri Redcorn, Caddo potter in her studio

Jeri Redcorn has revived the Caddo tradition of pottery.
Caddo pottery was made for over 1,000 years beginning around A.D. 800. The most basic function of Caddo pottery was to fulfill everyday needs--vessels to cook in, drink out of and for storing items. Fine Caddo pottery also served to fulfill ceremonial needs and has been found in many Caddo gravesites. Forms of Caddo pottery are the most common items found in Caddo gravesites because they served as storage vessels for food left for the deceased and as gifts for the deceased.
Caddo pottery played such an important role in Caddo culture that historians have been able to use it to piece together much of early history, lifestyle and the world view of the Caddo Indians.

Jeri discussed with us how the Caddo were an innately communal society where they joined together to perform their social activities including the making of their pots until the federal goverment began to attempt to "civilize the indians" and in the process destroying their traditions and way of life.

The “Indian Problem”

It was during the 1850s when the United States federal government's attempt to grasp control over the Native Americans reached an entirely new level of severity. With the arrival of a plentiful group of new European settlers reaching the eastern border, a place where multitudes of Native Americans tribes were currently situated, the government grew fearful as they believed that they were in the midst of facing an “Indian problem” as the racial societies were unable to coexist within the same communities. Searching for a quick and accessible solution to their problem, William Medill the commissioner of Indian Affairs, pushed forth the idea of establishing “colonies” or “reservations” that would be exclusive to the natives, mimicking those in which the natives had created for themselves in the east. [2] A form of removal where they would uproot the natives from their current positions and push them westward to a region beyond the Mississippi River in turn opening up new placement for the new white settlers and at the same time protecting them from the corrupt “evil” ways of the subordinate natives. [3]
This new policy responsible for concentrating the tribesman away from the migrating settlers, caused a great deal of suffering amongst the natives as they were constantly being budged around, and driven away to areas which were less desirable to the white settlers. This suffering led to a unanimous feeling of disapproval and non-cooperation amongst the native population, towards the implementation of the new reservation system and as a response the Native Indians made the decision to rebel through the use of violence. Resulting in a string of on and off wars throughout the following decades, until, through a weakening native power, a much stronger American military force, and negotiated agreements many natives, tired of fighting a losing battle gave up and relocated to the reservations. [4] Leaving the Native Americans with a total of over 155 million acres of land ranging from arid deserts to prime agricultural land. [5]
The Reservation system though not the ideal lifestyle that the natives originally desired was one that still allotted each tribe to have a significant amount of freedom. Each tribe had a claim to their new tribal lands, protection over their territories and the right to govern themselves, with the senate being able to intervene solely through the negotiation of treaties, they continued on following their traditions within their separate societies. [6] The traditional tribal organization, a defining characteristic of Native Americans as a social unit became apparent to the non-native communities of the United States and created a mixed stir of emotions. The tribe was viewed as a highly cohesive group, led by a hereditarily chosen chief, who exercised power and influence amongst the members of the tribe through the usage of aging traditions. [7] Seen as a strong tight knit society led by powerhouse men who were opposed to any change that weakened their positions, many white Americans feared Indian tribes and sought out immediate reformation. Their objection to the “Euroamerican” lifestyle that was of social norm in the United States at the time, was seen as both unacceptable and uncivilized; and by the end of the 1880s a general consensus seemed to arise amongst the country concerning the native’s habits. Government and military officials, congressional leaders and Christian reformers alike all formed the belief that the assimilation of Native Americans into white American culture was top priority, it was the time for them to leave behind their tribal landholding, reservations, traditions and ultimately their Indian identity. [8] They wanted nothing more than to rid themselves forever of their “Indian problem,” to relieve themselves of their impoverished, uncivilized counterparts and replace them with independent Americanized Christian agricultural society, and so on February 8 1887, the Dawes Allotment Act was created.
Responsible for enacting the division of the American native reserves, the Dawes Act was created by reformers in hope of achieving at least six accomplishments: the breaking up of tribes as a social unit, encouraging individual initiatives, furthering the progress of native farmers, reducing the cost of native administration, securing parts of the reservations as Indian land, and finally opening the remainder of the land to white settlers for profit. [9] The compulsory Act forced natives to succumb to their evitable fate; they would undergo severe attempts to become “Euro-Americanized” as the government allotted their reservations with or without their consent. Native Americans held very specific ideologies pertaining to their land, to them the land and earth were things to be valued and cared for, for they represented all things that produced and sustained life, it embodied their existence, identity and created an environment of belonging. [10] In opposition to their white counterparts, they did not see it from an economic standpoint. However it was believed that in order to ensure their survival the natives would have to succumb to embrace these beliefs and surrender to the forces of progression. They were to adopt the values of the dominant society and see land as real estate to be bought and developed; they were to learn how to use their land effectively in order to become prosperous farmers. [11] As they were inducted as citizens of the country they would shed their uncivilized discourses and ideologies, and exchange them for ones that allowed them to become industrious self-supporting citizens, and finally rid themselves of their “need” for government supervision. [12]
According to the Dawes Act, each tribe in accordance with the criteria sanctioned by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs would obtain a parcel of land according to a particular formula. Each Native had to be of either one-half native blood or more, to be of mixed blood beyond that degree and fall beneath the required level of “blood quantum” meant that they would not receive their allotment. [13] Beyond that each native was to become an American citizen, those who refused would be left landless as well. From that point the division of land was made according to age and family situation; each head of the family received 160 acres, each single person over the age of 18 or orphan under the age of 18 would receive 80 acres of land, and each single person under 18 then living or born before the president ordered allotment received 40 acres. [14] The amount of land in native hands rapidly depleted from some 150 million acres to a small 78 million acres by 1900, as the remainder of the land once allotted to appointed natives was declared surplus and sold to non-native settlers as well as railroad and other large corporations, and was also converted into federal parks and military compounds. [15] Quickly changing the concern from private native landownership to satisfying the white settlers demand for larger portions of land.


By dividing reservation lands into privately owned parcels, legislators hoped to complete the assimilation process by forcing the deterioration of the communal life-style of the Native societies and imposing Western-oriented values of strengthening the nuclear family and values of economic dependency strictly within this small household unit.[16]
The land granted to most allottees was not sufficient for economic viability, and division of land between heirs upon the allottees' deaths resulted in land fractionalization. Most allotment land, which could be sold after a statutory period of 25 years, was eventually sold to non-Native buyers at bargain prices. Additionally, land deemed to be "surplus" beyond what was needed for allotment was opened to white settlers, though the profits from the sales of these lands were often invested in programs meant to aid the American Indians. Native Americans lost, over the 47 years of the Act's life, about 90 million acres (360,000 km²) of treaty land, or about two-thirds of the 1887 land base. About 90,000 Native Americans were made landless.[17]
It is ironic that by destroying the Caddo sense of community instead of embracing what they could have taught us about a healthy society focusing on cooperation we lost a great opportunity to improve our way of life and still allowed modernization to occur.

Here are some production shots of Bob with Jeri.

Jeri's studio is very compact but in that studio she creates works that come from the sincerity of her heart and her heritage. We will visit the Museum of the Red River in Idabel May 17th and see some of the pots of her ancestors that inspired Jeri to revive the long-lost tradition of her Caddo ancestors. She coil builds her pots and incises them with exquisite designs and patterns that connect to Caddo culture and then burnishes them with a stone. The incised areas are highlighted with a colored slip and then she wood-fires them in her backyard.
Below our several shots of Bob doing dolly shots to capture the range of some of Jeri's pots.
Tracking shot
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In motion picture terminology, a tracking shot (also known as a dolly shot or trucking shot) is a segment in which the camera is mounted on a camera dolly, a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken. One may dolly in on a stationary subject for emphasis, or dolly out, or dolly beside a moving subject (an action known as "dollying with").
The Italian feature film Cabiria (1914), directed by Giovanni Pastrone, was the first popular film to use dolly shots, which in fact were originally called "Cabiria movements" by contemporary filmmakers influenced by the film; however, some smaller American and English films prior to 1914 had used the technique prior to Cabiria.[1]
The tracking shot can include smooth movements forward, backward, along the side of the subject, or on a curve. Dollies with hydraulic arms can also smoothly "boom" or "jib" the camera several feet on a vertical axis. Tracking shots, however, cannot include complex pivoting movements, aerial shots or crane shots.[2]

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