Of Janna Jones's Essay 'Starring Sally Peshlakai'

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Janna Jones’s essay “Starring Sally Peshlakai” follows a path towards a Native American woman who is featured in a 1939 ethnographic film, Navajo Rug Weaving, and discovers a complicated relationship between filmmaker and subject. While examining films for preservation, Jones discovers a world set in Navajo territory created by Tad Nichols. After researching the directors background, the façade of Navajo Rug Weaving unravels to reveal a close bond between the director and the Navajo – something not blatantly portrayed in the film. Early twentieth century documentaries often exploit peoples with “exotic” traits – living in the tundra, surviving in the desert, making rugs – to a point of fundamental entertainment. On the other hand, anthropologists
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