By Daysha Eaton, KBBI Sept. 26, 2016
Yakutat Man is One of ‘The Magnificent Seven’
By Scott Burton, KTOO
Martin Sensmeier, a 32-year-old actor from Yakutat, is co-starring in a major motion picture, “The Magnificent Seven.” In the film, which opened Friday, Sensmeier shares the screen with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
The movie is a remake of the 1960 western version starring Yul Brynner, and also the 1954 Japanese film “Seven Samurai.”
On the phone from Los Angeles, Sensmeier said that riding horses was the most challenging part of the role.
“Being Tlingit and Athabascan, you know, I didn’t grow up on them, right?” Sensmeier said. “We traveled like a hundred miles every day. So they sent us to Louisiana a month before filming and we started training five days a week on horseback riding — about an hour and a half to two hours a day. And I was riding bareback in the movie — I’m the only one that didn’t have a saddle.”
Sensmeier grew up in Yakutat and enjoyed playing basketball and subsistence fishing and hunting.
As an adult, he worked on an oil rig at one point, and has lived between Los Angeles and Yakutat working as an actor and model.
Beyond doing cultural research, and having a Comanche cultural adviser on the set, Sensmeier said he could relate to his character.
“There’re similarities between all of us. Certain innate qualities we all share. We all have similar experiences in terms of what we went through — colonization, but also there’re a lot of similarities between the cultural values,” Sensmeier said. “Of course our rituals and ceremonies and stuff like that are different, but culturally, we connect. Hanging out with native people wherever I go, you feel that connection.”
That being said, Sensmeier does not pretend to speak for the Comanche.
“As few roles as there are for Native characters, it’s representative of our place in Hollywood in a way,” he said. “But as far as representing the Comanche people, I did the best I could with what I was given. And I hope they like it. But I am not going to sit here and tell you that this is the Comanche way because I am not a representative of that, right? I am not a part of their culture. I am not a part of their tribe. I’m an actor. You know? So, I act.”
When Sensmeier is not acting, he visits home often.
“If I could do what I do and live at home, I would definitely do that,” he said. “Unfortunately, I have to be down here. Not unfortunately, I am very blessed to be in this position, but I would much rather live at home in Yakutat than in Los Angeles.”
“I am not really a city boy. I like being in the village,” said Sensmeier.
The movie opened Sept 23 in theaters everywhere.
White House to Host 2016 Tribal Nations Conference
By Daysha Eaton, KBBI
This week, President Obama will host the 2016 White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC.
This will be the President’s eighth and final Tribal Nations Conference, providing tribal leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes with the opportunity to interact directly with high-level federal government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.
Each federally recognized tribe is invited to send one representative to the conference.
This year’s conference will continue to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and to improve the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Feds Invite Tribes to Take Part in Infrastructure Decisions
By Associated Press
The Obama administration has invited leaders from federally recognized tribes to participate in a series of consultations aimed at getting input on infrastructure projects.
The consultations were spurred by the federal government's decision this month to step into the Standing Rock Sioux's fight over the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
The Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said the case "highlighted the need for a serious discussion" about nationwide reforms "with respect to considering tribes' views on these types of infrastructure projects."
The meetings are scheduled from Oct. 25 through Nov. 21 in six regions of the country.
The meetings will focus on "meaningful" tribal input into infrastructure-related decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources and treaty rights. New legislation to promote those goals also will be considered.