Discovery Channel show, "First Nation" an affront to Haudenosaunee

Dear Editor,

Recently Joseph Bruchac shared with the Ndakinna Board of Directors a communication he received written by Doug George-Kanentiio, husband of Joanne Shenandoah, respected Mohawk historian and featured speaker at  the Saratoga Native American Festival. The letter was directed to the Haudenosaunee Nation Councils.

The letter outlined Mr. George-Kanentiio's connection with the creation of a program entitled "First Nations," which [was] supposed to tell the story of the founding of the [Haudensaunee] Confederacy." After much of the project was completed, the CEO who had approved the film was fired and a replacement brought in who hired a new editing team from Half Yard Productions and a non-Native script writer whose changes fundamentally altered the project's original vision.

Indeed, Mr. George-Kanentiio's states that "this person destroyed the story and in its place created a film which is full of distortions, lies and violence." The original producers of the show resigned in protest.

Mr. George-Kanentiio showed the film "to Oren Lyons and a group of filmmakers and media professionals at Syracuse University... They agreed this was a bad film. Dr. Robert Venables also reviewed the film and told the producers he could not recommend that the episode be shown to anyone at anytime since it was a disaster in every way. They have ignored his counsel."

Mr. George-Kanentiio's letters to the current producers were ignored as was his request that they meet with the Haudenosaunee to discuss the episode. He has requested that his and Joanne Shenandoah's names be removed from the credits.

This travesty will air on the Discovery Channel Saturday, December 6th at 10:00 pm.  and Sunday, December 7th at 2 am.

Contact information:
First Nations producer for The Discovery Channel: John Ford  (240) 662-2128
Abby Greensfelder, President, Half Yard Productions   (240) 223-3380

Please forward this to anyone you know who is as concerned as we are about the accurate and respectful representation of Native American culture in the media and popular culture in general.

Michael Lambert
For the Board of Directors
The Ndakinna Education Center
23 Middle Grove Road
Greenfield Center, New York 12833
(518) 583-9958