Jeffrey Palmer

I describe my art as a personal exploration of Native American “life” in twenty-first century America. Exploratory because of the great diversity of Indigenous people in the United States who continuously change their culture on a daily basis. I try to achieve this aesthetic by documenting my own experiences within Indian Country focusing on the land, the creation of place, the diversity of people, the language, the music and the spiritual world.

The aesthetic of my films represents an Indigenous form of storytelling, that strives to achieve screen sovereignty. I try to have substantive collaboration with the people I represent, forming a shared ethnography in the construction of knowledge and meaning within non-fiction projects. Furthermore, these collaborators are filmed on the land of the ancestors. For Indigenous people around the world, the connection to the land is of the utmost importance. The land is a conduit of tribal memory, origin, creation, subsistence and worship. I also enforce the use of tribal language and music that is at the heart of present day tribal identity.

For over a century Native Americans have been part of an intense ethnographic gaze. As a filmmaker, I am always aware that I might perpetuate this objectification. Utilizing thick soundscapes and wide shots of the landscape, I hope to provide the spectator with multiple views of the Indigenous experience that go beyond the blunt examination of the subject or their material culture. However, I question the reflexivity of my own work and the consequences of being a cultural insider and outsider.

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