I started to think what cultures or groups of people I'd be interested in reading about. I don't know what it was that drew me towards the Native American Indians, but once I started to read about them and there stories, I was hooked.
I read a few stories online via google book, amazon preview and just internet sights. I got a grasp about what they were all about and a few things I picked up on were; they were short, they were funny, they were 'trippy' and they were exciting.
I knew I'd stumbled across something which I could really get stuck into and also something which interests me. Also, my starting subject was 'death', which can be very serious and sad and i know i can't do 'serious' very well, as its not in my nature, so to find that the Native American's add humor to their stories also made me want to read more about them...
One of the books I looked at which i thought would be very useful to me was a book called 'American Indian Myths and Legends' which categorized the stories, two of them called 'Ghosts and the Spirit World' and 'Visions of the End'
The book has proved to be real helpful for the research, picked up on lots of stuff about the death and the afterlife from the book, which I highlighted whilst reading it and also jotting it down in the sketchbook so I can start to gather all my facts into one place and hopefully create my own story.
Another book I looked at was this one called 'The dance in the Sky: native American star myths' this made me think about how crazy my animation could be, the books preface talks about how they were told during a time when people believed animals could talk and people could change shape, so on and so forth. Also learnt about some of the star constlations like 'The Big Dipper' which, in native american culture, shows a bear with his cubs following behind, and they created stories around that...
As well as reading short stories, I started to get to grips which who's who in the Native American world and where they lived.
Looked at their main people within tribes, like the chief and the medicine man. Started to read about the medicine man and his/ her roll as their brought up a lot in the stories I was reading (not a lot about Indian chiefs surprisingly)
Medicine Man was brought up a lot in the stories I read, which made me research further into this character. He's also known as a Shaman which is defined as;
A person having access to, and influence in, the world of spirits, esp. among some peoples of northern Asia and North America.
These people are the ones that they look up to to get guidance as they're about to communicate with the higher beings. As a result, they have visions which lead them to preach the truth and how the people should live. The ghost dance was thought up by a shaman called Wovoka (Jack Wilson) claimed that if doing this certain dance would bring back the buffalo, their ancestors and the 'better days'. This was at a time when the white man was taking over their land, children were taken away to school and less and less animals were around.
In terms of the Native American beliefs, I researched 'Animism' which is the closest thing that describes them.
Animism: The attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.
In their stories, they talk about how howls of wind signify that spirits are near by.
Another aspect which I want to incorporate into my animation, is their ceremonies. I talked about the Ghost Dance and how it was suppose to bring people and animals back form the dead. Its based around being reunited.
One of the other dances which was performed by most of the Native American Indian tribes, was the 'Sun Dance', which is described as;
It showed a continuity between life and death - a regeneration. It shows
that there is no true end to life, but a cycle of symbolic and true
deaths and rebirths.
I suppose, in my animation, I want to reflect the meanings behind one of the dances. Heres a really nice documentary directed by Colin Low, its about the sun dance ceremony in modern times (1960s). Before this documentary, there was very little footage of the sun dance (and of any Native American Ceremony for that matter) the reason it was films was because the American Indians thought their heritage was being forgotten about, and bring it into main stream media would boost peoples awareness of them.
There's so much other stuff which I've read about and highlighted in my sketchbook which is informing my animation. Other websites and pieces of text I've read are;
This piece of art was recommended to me by the external examiner when he came to visit the uni...
The next step would be to gather all this information and pick out the key bit which will help me create some narrative for a short animation...