Monday, November 28, 2011

"We Are Birds" Bird Singing Documentary


The Native people of Southern California who sing Bird Songs, along with their immediate neighbors such as other Southwestern tribes , have practiced a tradition called "Birdsinging" for well over 10,000 years -- some would say for as long as 25,000 years. As part of a complex web of cultural practices, Birdsinging brings people together from different tribes and is an integral part of social gatherings, seasonal rituals, mourning practices, and cultural teaching. We Are Birds is a documentary film project focusing on the Head Bird Singers who are currently leading the tribes in their cultural traditions. The Head Bird Singer fulfills a critical role not only as a cultural leader, but also as a preservationist of songs and the traditions that go with the performance of these songs. In a time where Native American languages are critically endangered, traditions such as Birdsinging are vitally important because they keep the language alive. We Are Birds will examine a variety of perspectives from leaders of different Cahuilla bands and neighboring tribes, as well as the people who sing with them or support the related traditions in a variety of ways. Told from an insider's perspective, this film aims to not only highlight the important cultural revitalization movement that is currently developing around Birdsinging, but also to share this culture with a broader audience.

What is Birdsinging?
Birdsinging is a form of music traditionally sung by the First Americans of the southwest.  These rhythmic songs accompanied by handmade gourd rattles are known to have been out here for at least 10,000 years, although according to oral tradition, they are even older, perhaps even 25,000 years old! These songs of our earliest ancestors are still sung by our people today.  Locally, the Cahuilla peoples have a birdsinging tradition that honors each day of the year, with a body of songs numbering over 365.  In addition, the Creation Story tells of a time when we were all birds, and flew three times around the world before finding a permanent home in what is now Southern California.  To honor this flight, bird songs are traditionally sung over a period of three days.  Other groups around the Cahuilla people traditionally shared our songs and sang and shared their own, along with other traditions, which has given the southwestern Natives a long history of cultural connectedness.  Bird songs have become a linkage between neighboring tribes and between generations, and are the heart of a growing revitalization movement demonstrating that cultural loss is not the only story to be told about Native Americans.
The accumulation of footage/audio of these interviews with people of the southwest in the wab documentary will be shared with the people and their respective museums, archives, and families that are interested in preserving their own culture.  The purpose for this film is to create an awareness that is currently not there in the public, in the education system, and local communities
The local native americans let alone their music styles are unknown to the outside communities and the goal is to inform and share…..
We Are Birds Documentary will feature a variety of Head Birdsingers , from Experienced Tribal Leaders and Preservationists to the First people in their tribe to restart birdsinging in their communities where there had been no birdsinging before. 
The We Are Birds Documentary will feature all of these views and in between, with each person telling their own story from their own perspective of why preservation is important and what it means to them as an individual.

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