Playing Pastime: American Indians, Softball & Survival, 2006

Documentary short, 30 minutes from 2005. This was a work-in-progress sample that screened at a few film festivals but never received completion funding for the proposed 90-minute verité documentary LeAnne Howe and I envisioned. The story is still out there waiting though.

When most people think of baseball, the last thing that comes to mind are American Indians. And when most people think of American Indians they imagine the whoop ‘em up, war bonnet-wearing stereotypes popularized in the media. Rarely do people put the two together. Most people do not know that the famed Louis and Clark Expedition encountered the Nez Perce Indians playing a game with a ball and a long stick. The Nez Perce called the game “base.” Be it “base” or “Indian bat and ball,” American baseball and fast-pitch softball has its roots in these historic “Indian ballgames.” This vérité-historical hybrid documentary examines why Indians are missing from the story of America’s favorite pastime, and how they went from progenitors of the games’ origins to the “mascots” of modern day baseball. Throughout the last two centuries Indians have fought genocide, negotiated Indian identity and struggled against cultural assimilation all the while playing ball in the fields of their ancestors. Playing Pastime is the story of modern American Indians and their survival through the lens of ball games.

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