The Hollywoods Arrive

by Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country

The cast and crew of the film, Older Than America, have completed
their work on this Reservation. Now we have to wait for a year and a
half before we can see the finished product.

I got a call from one of the Hollywoods telling me I had to report to
the Ojibwe school for my first time in front of the camera.

They were shooting a couple of scenes in the Forestry and were using the school
as a staging area.

I walked into the gym and I quickly observed that at least a hundred
other people got the call. Even Catherine Whipple of the Circle
newspaper was there. I was milling around with the gaggle of extras
when one of the Hollywoods told me to go to the make-up room.

I sat on the chair and the make-up woman began to work on my mugshot,
my face. She put a little bib inside my collar as she unlimbered her
tools. She brushed powder on with a big brush, matched my skin tone
with one of her cremes and began rubbing it in trying to make me
pretty. I thought it was the same as putting lipstick on a pig. She
also told me it was to knock the shine off of my greasy face.

One of the Hollywoods shuttled me to the scene of the scenes. I
walked into the field and scanned around. There were warm-up tents
set up, lights, the camera's little railroad tracks were laid and
there were more people milling around. They also had fires inside
some oil barrels. It was a good thing because the temp was about nine

As I saw it the scene went like this... two people arrive and walk
through a crowd to a drum. I saw Amik standing in the crowd, looking
cold and stoic at the same time.

I watched the professionals work. The cast and crew worked hard in
the cold of a Minnesota winter. These Hollywood's were good.
Dan Harrison thought it would look good if Dennis Banks draped a
blanket around the woman as she was welcomed back to the community.
They needed a Pendleton blanket. Them Hollywoods had a lot of stuff
but they didn't have any Pendletons. I celled Pat and she brought two
blankets to the doings. Pat and I pretended to be actors and welcomed
that woman back home. I think we both got some serious face time on
the camera. Wow, in the same shot with Adam Beach and Tantoo
Cardinal, Glen and Gloria.

We did the scene many times until Director Georgina Lightning and AD
Rowdy were happy with our acting. The actors warmed up in the little
warm-up tents between takes.

It was getting cold after standing many hours in the snow. When we
were released Pat and I escaped to the casino where we warmed up
around a couple of Keno machines.

I walked through the smoke of another funeral fire here in Sawyer.
The fire this time was for my friend Frannie LaFave. At one time he
was my brother-in-law. His children are my nieces and nephews. I
shall always remember his storytelling and laughter.

The Hollywoods arrived in Sawyer at 0600 hours with their semi-trucks
and trailers. They filled Northrup Road north to south. The
Hollywoods quickly turned our house and yard into a movie set. I
didn't count but I estimated at least 50 of them all doing their
work. They had lights and cables, cameras and microphones. They began
shooting at the fire pit. In preparing the set the Hollywoods used
concrete logs and a propane flame for the fire. It looked like a fire
but didn't give off heat. I heard someone say Colder Than America?

The make-up women arrived and set up their lights and chairs. They
powdered and cremed everyone that was going to be in the shot at the
fire pit.

This was Ray Earley's first time on camera. After one take Georgina
came up and told Ray he was supposed to look at the other people
around the fire and not just smile at the camera. In this scene I
actually had lines to deliver. Here they are:

"Why, you got a crime to report or are the cops looking for you too?" and then later while sitting around the cold fire I say: "A Geologist huh, what brings you around these parts?

The cast members hung around inside the house keeping warm. Adam
Beach fell asleep on our couch. His wife, Tara, said she has many
pictures of Adam asleep on other movie sets. One shot was done at my
kitchen table. They shot all day and late into the night. We escaped
to the casino. Mii iw.