________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 1999

cover The Gift of the Grandfathers: Saddle Up for a Ride on the First Nations Rodeo Circuit.

Doug Cuthand (Director). June Morgan and Jerry Krepakevich (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
44 min., 45 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 159.

Subject Headings:
Indian cowboys-Great Plains-History.
Rodeos-Great Plains-History.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4

The Gift of the Grandfathers reminds viewers that the Aboriginal peoples were the first "cowboys" of the Plains and that their tradition of horsemanship continues into the present. Combining Gordon Tootoosis' narrative, archival phonographs, historical perspectives, and footage shot at First Nations rodeo events, the video profiles two rodeo competitors - Sandra Crowchild and Richard Bish as they travel the trail to the Indian Rodeo Finals in Saskatoon. While rodeo has long been a part of western ranch culture, the First nations rodeo circuit has developed a unique direction. Not only is it a demonstration of riding skills, but it is also an occasion in which Native culture and spiritual bonds are strengthened and celebrated. And it also becomes a means by which tradition is continued, transmitted and developed.
     While The Gift of the Grandfathers is at its best in providing vignettes of life on the circuit, it does provide some interesting history as well. The First Nations rodeo circuit developed because, at first, Aboriginals were excluded from rodeo events, and, later, they faced prejudice from non-Native judges. It wasn't until the Canadian government gave up on its attempts to turn a formerly nomadic people into settled farmers that Native people became ranchers, an occupation which offered the opportunity to capitalize on their heritage of horsemanship - the gift of their grandfathers and animal management. You certainly don't have to be a horse lover or a rodeo fan to find The Gift of the Grandfathers to be great viewing. Its biggest drawback as an acquisition for school libraries is its lack of a direct curriculum fit. A Native Studies unit is the most likely place in which the video could be used. However, students interested in horse and rodeo will enjoy it, and there are videos with far less educational value than this one which are shown on Friday afternoons.

Recommended with reservations.

Joanne Peters is the teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364