“This May be the Last Time,” a documentary that debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, details the disappearance of Harjo’s grandfather in the 1960s and the music his fellow Creek Indians used to express their subsequent grief. RSU Professor Dr. Hugh Foley is featured in the film.
The film screening will kick off at 6:30 p.m., in the Will Rogers Auditorium. Muscogee (Creek) hymn singers will perform songs prior to the screening. Harjo will comment about the film before the screening and then answer audience questions after the film.
The film presentation is free and open to the public.
Harjo (Seminole/Creek) first gained critical and audience acclaim with his films “Goodnight, Irene” (2005), “Four Sheets to the Wind” (2007) and “Barking Water” (2009). His films have been presented at international film festivals, including Sundance. In 2010 Harjo served as a jury member for the Sundance Film Festival and in 2009 as an Advisor for the Sundance Institute Ford Foundation Film Fellowship. He also is a founding member of the comedy collective The 1491s, which were recently featured on an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Dr. Foley is a musicologist widely known for preserving local and Native American music, and he said the Muscogee (Creeks) hymns may be the very earliest example of a truly American genre. The Muscogee (Creeks) developed their distinctive hymns by mixing their own traditions with those of other racial and ethnic groups with whom they had contact.
One of those groups, Scottish migrants, colonized much of the Muscogee homeland in the southeast United States, bringing with them a tradition of congregational line singing. In the line-singing style, a leader begins singing the first lines of a hymn and is joined by the rest of the congregation.
This style was also transmitted to the other major ethnic group in the Southeast, African American slaves, who had their own tradition of call and response spiritual singing.
The Muscogee adopted these styles, combining them with their own flavor and language, Foley said.