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Imagining the Indian – Film Screening and Filmmakers’ Talk

Ben West (Cheyenne), director; Yancey Burns, producer

Wed, 3/27 · 7:00 pm9:00 pm · Princeton Garden Theatre

Department of Religion

Presented in partnership with the Princeton University Department of Religion. Associate Professor of Religion Garry Sparks will introduce the film. Associate Professor of History Liz Ellis will discuss with filmmaker Ben West and producer Yancey Burns following the film.

Open to public. With Princeton ID, tickets are available at a discounted rate of $10 each.

About the Film

Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting is an award-winning documentary that examines the movement that is ending the use of Native American names, logos, and mascots in the world of sports and beyond. The film details the current uprising against the misappropriation of Native culture in a national reckoning about racial injustice that has succeeded in the removal of Confederate imagery, toppling statues of Christopher Columbus and forcing corporate sponsors of Washington’s NFL team to demand it change its most-offensive name. It examines the origin and proliferation of the words, images, and gestures that many Native people and their allies find offensive. Imagining the Indian explores the impact that stereotyping and marginalization of Native history have had on Native people. It chronicles the long social movement to eliminate mascoting.

Ben West (Cheyenne)

A freelance writer, producer, director, and consultant with the Ciesla Foundation. He spent many years in television production at Carsey-Werner Mandabach LLC and has worked on feature films for companies like Telenova Productions, and outlets such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. He is currently developing content for television and film. In addition to his endeavors in entertainment, he is Southern Cheyenne and an advocate for Native American rights. West was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and is a graduate of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

Yancey Burns

A 2019 graduate of the George Washington University Documentary Film Center, he wrote and directed the award-winning documentary short One Fall, which explores the return of independent professional wrestling to the District of Columbia. Prior to filmmaking, he was a practicing attorney, most recently with the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, where he prosecuted ethical misconduct in the DC government. He also owns and manages his family farm in Lincoln County, West Virginia, which produces 100% grass-fed Hereford beef. Burns holds a BS in Journalism from West Virginia University, a JD from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, and is currently pursuing an MA in Strategic Communication at the GWU School of Media and Public Affairs.

  • Department of Religion
  • Department of History
  • Land, Language and Art: A Humanities Council Global Initiative
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton
  • Humanities Council
  • Center for Culture, Society, and Religion
  • Committee for Film Studies
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