Film: 1779

Places + Locations | 1930 | Silent | B/W

Synopsis:

Footage of traditional life in an indigenous village of pueblo dwellers in New Mexico, U.S.A. 1930s
The adobe village is in a rocky mountain range in a desert area. The film shows everyday village life including shots of traditional building, farming, cooking and baking techniques, basketweaving, pottery, hairdressing and ceremonial dance. The film finishes with footage of youngsters that have been moved to state schools in a built up town environment.

A range of jagged mountains. The valley bottom with rocks. A mountain pass with cliffs in the distance. A man walking amongst ruins and above him a semi ruined village of cave like houses perched up high along the edge of the rocky cliff. Two small cave paintings on a stone wall in the form of animals in a pre-columbine design. A man rides across a sparse landscape on a mule, leading a horse.

A smiling young indigenous woman looks up and laughs. "The home of the Pueblo Indian is his castle". A desert landscape with a view of a table top mountain from between two rocks. A man walks towards rocky mountains. Two men dressed in white shirts and black trousers walk up a path worn into the rock face. They climb up a ladder, going up onto another pathway.

An adobe house with a smoking chimney stands at the front of a village. Several large dome like structures, possibly clay ovens, stand in the village clearing. A man and three children carry bundles as they walk through the village of adobe houses past a pile of logs. The front of a large two story mud house with a ladder leaning up against the outer wall. A man works in a shady courtyard as a small child toddles around. A young boy in a stony village square tends to a small black pony as the other horse scratches its neck against a wooden pole, two smaller children wander by him.

"In a dry land houses may be built of sun-dried bricks". Two women, their dresses flapping in the wind, pat mud onto an adobe wall while another carrying a baby watches on. They throw handfuls of sticky mud at the wall then smooth it down with their bare hands.

A group of villagers walk down the street along a row of small mud huts. Two young mothers are sitting on a step, their children in nappies on their laps, they smile fondly as the babies play, one child offers a plate to the other. A group of schoolboys and a girl wrapped in a checked shawl sit on the edge of a mud brick wall laughing and kicking their feet.

A man in a white shirt with a bandana wrapped around his head crouches in a field, he digs a small hole in the earth with a stick then picks up a handful of seeds. He drops some of them into the hole before covering it back over with soil. A man in a cornfield works the land with a hoe.

"Making tortillas" Inside a hut a woman sits breaking corn off the cob as she looks at her young daughter who is sitting in the corner playing with a puppy. The small girl picks up the dog. She watches as her mother shakes and tosses the corn kernels in a basket tray. The mother grinds the corn in a stone trough by rubbing it up and down against a large stone, she then scoops it out with the edge of a straw brush. Now she mixes it by hand with something in another bowl. She wraps the mixture in corn husks and folds them into parcels, laying them onto a plate in front of her. She places them into a large black earthenware pot which is suspended by a stone stovetop above a roaring fire. "After cooking". She picks the parcels out of the pot.

"Bread making". Outside a woman in a black dress stands pouring corn from a basket onto a cloth on the ground where a man is spreading it out to dry in the sun. She holds the basket above her head and slowly tips its contents out. She looks up and smiles as she works. Another woman sat in front of a large clay oven is grinding the flour on a flat stone. "After the oven is hot the fire is raked out". Two women shovel ash and embers from the oven, shrouded in a cloud of smoke. One stokes the oven as the other looks on. The other woman holds a wooden tray of loaves. She carries it over to the woman stoking the oven and lays it before her. The woman with the tray passes the dough to the woman working the oven who has a large flat baking peel which she uses to put the loaves deep into the oven. "The hot oven bakes quickly". The bread is now finished, the woman with the peel sits in front of the smoking oven fetching out the loaves. She quickly picks them up, pats off the ashes by tapping them on her knee and then places them on the tray beside her.

"Weaving baskets" A woman sits weaving a round basket. Another dressed in black sits beside her holding a naked baby. The weaving woman takes pieces of material and pokes them into the weave. A man dressed in an ornate, robe-like blanket comes out of a doorway between two ladders, he is followed by a woman carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket, she places the baby on the floor by the ladder then sits down, another man in ceremonial dress and long strings of beads with ponytails emerges and sits behind her, two more women sit in front of them with baskets on their laps, the woman with the baby picks up a basket and starts to work it. The man with ponytails holds the baby and shakes a rattle over its head as the women sit in a circle with the baskets. The women sit hunched over their patterned baskets weaving. A small boy with a white bandana is sat next to the man with the rattle.

"Only settled peoples make pottery" A woman sits outside against an adobe wall, surrounded by pots, she throws a ball of clay from one hand to the other. She rolls the ball out into a long tube and coils it around the top of a pot in her lap, moulding it on with her hand. She repeats the process then scrapes the clay round the inside of the pot with a wooden spatula. "Pueblo pottery is shaped by hand" The near finished pot is smoothed into shape by her hands. She turns it a quarter then smoothes the rim with her fingers.

Two women tend a fire, probably for a kiln, one throws sticks into it as the other sweeps around it. They place hot rocks on top of the mound using two long sticks as tongs. They then use the sticks to scrape the ash away and reveal the fired pottery beneath, moving them out of the heat. They place the fired pottery on a small trolley. A woman wipes some kind of glaze onto a clay dish. She dips a rag in the substance and smears it over the dish. Another woman is glazing a large pot. She turns the pot as she wipes it on, her hands coloured white from the clay. Now the two women sit on the ground painting the large pots. One paints the image of a bird onto the side of a pot already covered in a pattern of geometric shapes. The other woman is now etching designs into the painted surface of one of the pots. An older woman with a head scarf and several beaded necklaces holds two of the pots on display. Her feet are wrapped in many bandages.

"Hair dressing". A woman wrapped in a check blanket brushes an old man's hair with a straw brush, she laughs as he tells her something. Three women sit on a patterned blanket outside a house, one is weaving a basket, another kneels brushing the hair of a woman with a large bun on one side of her head and long black hair in the other, a small child who is standing watching them sits as a man passes by with a basket, the man with the ponytails and the rattle comes out of the house with the baby and sits behind the woman who is hairdressing. She wraps the hair around a bent stick to keep its shape then rolls it up into a bun on the side of the other woman's head. She uses a piece of ribbon to bind it then pulls the stick out, she teases the hair with her hands so it forms a large round circular bun, identical to the one of the other side of her head. The woman who is weaving looks up from her work and smiles, the small boy is now sat at her side. She continues with her weaving.

"Special dances mark each season" A round ceremonial hut sits in the middle of a clearing. A group of villagers, two with their arms stretched and dancing, the others playing instuments, emerge from a hut and walk along in procession. Two topless men with feather headdresses with tails that run down their backs dance in circles in front of three musicians, they are holding feather shields which they tap together on each turn. The dancers stand talking in front of the musicians, their faces painted.

" The Harvest Dance". A big group of women walking in a line snake around the clearing with baskets balanced on their heads, behind them is a three storey adobe structure where a group of villagers are gathered on the roof, watching the women from above. A line of men with feather headdresses and shirts carry bows and arrows, they march up and down on the spot, turning together to face the other way. They stamp small steps up and down with their feet in rhythm. Now a line of bare-chested men with rattles stand in front of the big building, which is covered with onlookers, moving in time together, dancing in a line.

"Indians in Government Schools advance rapidly" A parade of uniformed youngsters march behind a band in front of a hall, obviously now in a town environment. A large group of young indigenous women dressed in school uniforms walk in file through a park. They stand together in the black dress and white shirt uniforms, their hair in ponytails. They walk down a path through the town. A group of boys stand in line wearing military style uniforms looking uncomfortable. The parade of young men walk down the path behind the band marching in time. "THE END"


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