Navajo Filmmakers



This paper is a report of research in visual (film) communication investigating questions in anthropology and communication. Six Navajos, aged 17–25, and one monolingual, aged 55, living on the reservation were taught only the technology of a 16mm movie camera and splicer and were asked to make films about “anything you want to.” We review the theoretical questions underlying the research, describe our method of teaching, and analyze the films they made and their verbalizations about them, relating their cultural, verbal grammar, and narrative style to their methods and social organization of learning filmmaking, choice of subjects and actors for their films, and their methods, both syntactic and semantic, of structuring the image events they photographed.