Thunderbird Group Launches NTV

By Sandra Hale Schulman 

- News From Indian Country - 

I want my NTV! An all native music channel is here, thanks to the innovation of Thunderbird Group, a Native American owned company headed up by C. Pony Vigil that was formed in August 2017 in New Mexico to focus on interconnecting Native communities through film and media.

Vigil has over 25 years of experience in major motion pictures including Thor, Avengers, 3:10 to Yuma and Cowboys & Aliens, and has been active in new and pioneering techniques for decades.

“I worked early on in virtual reality and broadcasting on the internet back in the late 1980s,” Vigil says. “I was also learning how to use alternative energy, solar power, and advanced communications. I helped in 1992 with Dennis Banks Sacred Run by showing the people and elders involved how new technology could help them communicate their messages. I had learned a lot working in Los Angeles on mainstream movies using special effects like virtual reality, music in 3D and other innovations. I had a degree in electronics but also a big interest in carrying on and recording oral traditions. I was in the music scene operating cameras and recordings, designing delivery systems to get the word out to Indian Country.”

Vigil has worked in every aspect of the film industry. He has worked as a lighting director, a field camera operator, film and television director and producer, a producer of Internet content. He was in the forefront of research and development in Silicon Valley since 1990, and is an accomplished narrator, singer and musician. Pony has an extended knowledge of IT and has been developing cutting-edge media content and continues to find new and innovative ways to push media distribution into the global awareness.

After an injury sidelined Vigil for a while, he got back into the business by starting up The Thunderbird Group, an innovative new media company that connects and empowers Indigenous communities to “work together and achieve spiritual balance based on traditional Native values of respect and integrity” he says.

Pony Vigil and Thana Redhawk

He works with partner Thana Redhawk, an influential speaker, published poet and award winning spoken word artist. Redhawk is a heaARTivist for the evolution in human consciousness. Through her poetry, music, activism and honoring sacred purpose, she works to empower others by “decolonizing hearts through remembering what it means to be a human being.”

They have started up two main networks – Nativeflicks.com and NTV.life to showcase all thing Native. “Tribal TV” on Nativeflicks, is a platform that invites indigenous cultures to share knowledge and culture with a comedy channel, movies, documentaries, short films and music. Vigil has been busy filming events at Indian Market in Santa Fe and Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque for original content. He was exclusively filming the 20th Anniversary screening of Smoke Signals during Indian Market Week.

NativeFlicks has licensed films and music documentaries with a who’s who in the Native world including Rita Coolidge in concert with Walela, Floyd Red Crow Westerman on his art and music and film work, Black Eagle Singers and dozens of films on history, the arts, politics and the environment. There’s a section for kids with animated films, and documentaries as well as short films.

Over at the new NTV the focus is on music with music videos and concert films. Artist in the lineup already are Artson, Pete Sands, Honey, Supaman, Gary Farmer, Funny Bone, Def-I, Sky Redhawk and dozens more.

They have been filming live performances for original content, such as the outdoor show presented at Seeds during Indian Market Week.

“We really want to be a unique channel to bridge music and films,” Vigil says. “It’s also about a certain awareness and a message of positivity, not just entertainment. If we want these stories told, we need to tell them ourselves.”



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