The Choctaw Story Exploring And Recording The Storytelling Tradition On Film
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This thesis contains two parts, a short documentary film and a written report, which taken together celebrate and comment upon the Choctaw oral storytelling tradition. The project as a whole serves as an introduction to the topic and allows Choctaws themselves to inform the audience about their thoughts and perspectives regarding identity, heritage, media representation, and the future of the tribe. The interviews that form the backbone of the documentary film greatly enlighten upon research findings that extend from a literature review, and so the thesis takes the form of a personal ethnography focusing on a specific aspect of culture. Salient themes include the defining characteristics of “a Choctaw story,” the inter-generational movement of the storytelling art, the place that Native Americans broadly and Choctaws specifically occupy in modern American society, and the role that new media may play in the survival and dissemination of the oral storytelling form into the future. Film looks to be an important element of this ongoing interaction between traditional forms and emergent ones, and so the piece at the heart of this thesis is a commentary in and of itself about the awesome potential and inherent limitations of recording stories that have always existed purely in the oral tradition. Finally, the question of authorship arises naturally when the production of a creative work involves academic research, the collection of sometimes-personal stories, and the use of pre-existing works that have no acknowledged “author” in the conventional use of the word. The product that results from this study cannot be attributed to a single storyteller or researcher, which differentiates it from most creative theses. This thesis is a collaboration in the deepest sense of the word; it therefore honors the roots and spirit of both the oral tradition and the craft of filmmaking, neither of which can be accomplished alone, but instead require person-to-person contact, willingness to listen, and respect for the stories that every person carries with them.