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FILM | "Bury My Heart with Tonawanda"


One of the enduring problems in capitalist culture is the unwillingness to deeply feel our mutual responsibility toward one another. We don't have to put a name or a system of doing things differently to enact the simple truth that caring for and empowering others is good for individuals and the community alike. This week, catch the premiere of a locally produced film that explores the Native American cultural perspective on disabilities and acceptance.

Friends of Ganondagan will present "Bury My Heart with Tonawanda" on Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Art Gallery Auditorium (500 University Ave.). The film tells the fictional story of John Harrison, a developmentally disabled boy rejected by his family and shunned by 19th century society, who is then accepted and nurtured to adulthood by the Tonawanda Seneca Nation.

"Bury My Heart with Tonawanda" was written, edited, and produced by Adrian Esposito, a local filmmaker with Asperger's Syndrome, directed by Gary Sundown (a member of the Seneca Nation), and stars many individuals, including elders, from the Tonawanda Indian Nation. The film seeks to "educate about Seneca culture, beliefs and myths, but also reveals the positive effects of love and respect while challenging the stereotypes often applied both to Native Americans and people with disabilities." Esposito was inspired by a Seneca story that explains why corn-husk dolls are faceless: to remind the people of the equal value of one another, despite specific beauty, ability, or circumstance.

Admission to the event is free (donations to Friends of Ganondagan are welcome), and tapas and wine are available for purchase beginning at 5 p.m. For more information, call 742-1690 or visit