Evan Adams, plays Thomas-Builds-The-Fire, in the 1998 film, “Smoke Signals” opposite Adam Beach
Published December 17, 2018
WASHINGTON — “Smoke Signals,” the 1998 motion picture written by Sherman Alexies and directed by Chris Eyre, is among this year’s annual selection of 25 of America’s most influential motion pictures to be inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.
“Smoke Signals” is good company. Other films named this year range from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Paul Newman’s unforgettable “Hud” to the opulent musical “My Fair Lady” and the rocking sounds of “Monterey Pop.” Selection to the registry will help ensure that these films will be preserved for all time.
The film won a coveted Sundance Audience Award and the Sundance Filmmakers Trophy.
“Smoke Signals” cast members included Evan Adams (“The Business of Fancydancing”), now Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia; Adam Beach (“Windtalkers”); Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”); Tantoo Cardinal (“Dances With Wolves,” “Wind River”); and Gary Farmer (“Powwow Highway”).
Here is what the Library of Congress stated about “Smoke Signals” in its release:
Smoke Signals (1998) Native American directors are a rarity in Hollywood. After the early silent film pioneers James Young Deer and Edwin Carewe, the portrayal of Native Americans in cinema turned dark and stereotypical. These social trends started changing with motion pictures like the groundbreaking “Smoke Signals,” generally considered to be the first feature film written, directed and produced by Native Americans. Director Chris Eyre uses the relaxed road-movie concept to create a funny and unpretentious look at Native Americans in the nation’s cinema and culture. The mostly Native American cast features Adam Beach and Evan Adams as the two road warriors who find themselves on a hilarious adventure. Beneath the highly entertaining façade, the film acquainted non-Native American audiences with real insights into the indigenous Americans’ culture. Sherman Alexie penned the witty, droll script based his book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” This Miramax release was a big hit on the independent film circuit and won numerous awards, including a Sundance award.
Levi Rickert, a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is the publisher and editor of Native News Online. Previously, he served as editor of the Native News Network. He is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.