March 25, 2003

American Indian dance documentary coming to NBC on April 19th


KEYWORDS: American Indian Dance documentary on NBC Four Directions Entertainment Oneida Indian Nation enterprise native american television documentary TV documentary The World of American Indian Dance Actor Peter Coyote Sonny Skyhawk Lakota Dan Jones Ponca film and television production company 100 percent American Indian-owned and operated oldest cultural tradition american indian dance Crow Fair Montana American Indian history Fancy Shawl Dance Jingle Dress Dance Men’s Fancy Dance regalia Crow lands opportunities for American Indians in the entertainment industry Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-so-nee) Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy people of the longhouse

SOURCE: Mark Emery, Director of Media Relations for the Oneida Nation



One Hour Documentary Is Produced By Four Directions Entertainment, An Enterprise Of Oneida Indian Nation

Los Angeles, CA: March 21, 2003 — The World of American Indian Dance, a one-hour documentary produced by Four Directions Entertainment, an enterprise of the Oneida Indian Nation, will premiere on the NBC Television Network on Saturday, April 19th at 3 P.M. (EST); Noon (PT). Check local listings for exact time in your area. You can also find them online and use a pdf converter to print.

The first-ever American Indian-produced documentary to air on a major television network, The World of American Indian Dance will introduce audiences to the beauty, athleticism, and competitive spirit of American Indian dance. Actor Peter Coyote provides a stirring narration.

The Oneida Indian Nation in partnership with Sonny Skyhawk (Lakota) and Dan Jones (Ponca) formed Four Directions Entertainment, the first film and television production company, 100 percent American Indian-owned and operated, in 2001.

According to Ray Halbritter, who as Nation Representative and CEO of the Oneida Indian Nation gave the green light to this documentary, “We are grateful to NBC’s Bob Wright for the support he has shown for this project.

This program is a testament to our overall mission of recognizing and advancing the American Indian community in the field of entertainment.”

Executive producer Dan Jones says, “American Indian dance is this continent’s oldest cultural tradition, with many of the country’s 560 tribes and nations hosting gatherings commonly called ‘powwows,’ which are growing in popularity as both cultural and sporting events.

Some powwows boast attendance of more than 50,000, such as Crow Fair in Montana, where we shot over 40 hours of dance footage and interviews.”

Against this historic and spectacularly beautiful backdrop, the compelling story of America’s first “performance artists” is told through dance.

Throughout its history, dance has fortified and sustained American Indians. It has also been the prism through which age-old rivalries have been played out and where such modern conflicts as progress vs. tradition; spirituality vs. commerce, and independence vs. assimilation continue to be dramatically expressed.

Traditional dance styles, developed thousands of years ago, distinguish tribes from one another and hold the key to tribal legacies. Whether inspired by revered animals, sacred places, or belief systems, American Indian dances span the gamut of human emotion and expression.

These beautiful, energetic dances require the skill of an Olympic athlete, as powwow contestants must adhere to rigorous protocols to win championships. Sports fans can look at these dancers as the direct descendants of America’s ‘original home team,’ carrying on a competitive tradition that dates back many centuries.

Also explored in the documentary is the clash of traditional vs. more modern styles of dancing and the lifestyles that reflect each distinct approach. As in any culture, young American Indians, to a certain degree, have abandoned the more traditional dance styles, preferring less restrictive, more interpretive dances including the Fancy Shawl Dance, the Jingle Dress Dance and the Men’s Fancy Dance.

Many tribal elders are wary over the more flashy and secular aspects of the newer dances. But others point to the increased attendance and participation of youth as a sign that the injection of the newer dance forms is re-invigorating the American Indian dance scene.

Producers were determined to showcase the aesthetic beauty of the dances, the colorful regalia, and the breathtaking Crow lands to the American viewing public. For that reason, according to executive producer Sonny Skyhawk, “Four Directions selected the Panasonic Broadcast’s AJ-HDC27 Varicam™, variable-frame high-definition camera for primary photography for the documentary.

The uncompressed edit was done on the HDBOXX editing system from BOXX® Technologies, which supports Panasonic’s AJ-HDC27 variable frame rate camera. This format provides an extraordinary introduction to the beauties of this cultural expression.”

The World of American Indian Dance is a Four Directions Entertainment production. The program is presented by The Oneida Indian Nation. Ray Halbritter, (Oneida), Dan Jones (Ponca) and Sonny Skyhawk (Lakota) are executive producers; Jones is producer.

Four Directions Entertainment is committed to creating more opportunities for American Indians in the entertainment industry and to re-defining, through its productions, the perception of the “First Americans” on the continent.

The Oneida Indian Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation in Central New York. It is a member of the Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-so-nee), known in English as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy. The word Haudenosaunee means “people of the longhouse.”


Oneida Nation press release.

Information contact:

Phone: 315-829-8370 Fax: 315-829-8386

Mark Emery – Director of Media Relations

Jerry Reed – Senior Media Specialist


Maggie Begley

Four Directions Entertainment

Phone: 310-301-1785


For more information about Four Directions Entertainment, visit

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