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Historian 09-07-2005 04:06 PM

Native American Veterans to be Honored in Country Music Video
Native American Veterans to be Honored in Country Music Video
By Ryan Hall
The Daily Times, Farmington, New Mexico
7 Sept. 2005, 12:08 am

FARMINGTON, NM — Native American veterans from the Four Corners region, along with those from across the U.S. and Canada, will take part in a music video for a song written in their honor Friday through Sunday near Page, Ariz., according to the artist.

Lorrie Church, a country and western musician, wrote the song “Native American” years ago but it never found its way onto an album until her new release, scheduled to hit stores in March 2006.

The song is part of the National Native American Veterans’ Memorial Project. All proceeds from the CD on which “Native American” is included will go to funding a national monument to all Native American veterans, according to Church. “I just knew it was a gift and a blessing. I feel no need to profit off of this,” she said.

Since the song and the project are meant to honor Native American veterans of all tribes, the music video shoot will include many veterans from across the U.S. and Canada.
Church said as of Thursday, more than 400 Native Americans had responded to a advertisement requesting veterans participate in the music video.

“I’m so honored to have the veterans in the video. I look forward to meeting them and hearing their stories. It’s just going to be a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Church said, adding she hoped the song and video help to shine the spotlight on the Native American veterans and bring them recognition.
The song itself began with a dream six years ago, when Church began having a recurring vision of a tepee located in an area where water was directly behind it. When she entered the teepee in her dream, she came across a group of old women covered in blood. “They were dead,” she recalled.

Shortly after having the dream, Church visited a Plains Cree elder who told her the story of Old Wives Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada, where Church lives. It was there that indigenous elder women had been slaughtered, according to legend.

The story told to Church by the elder was that the women knew soldiers were coming to the camp while the men were hunting, so they sent the younger women and children out of the village, sacrificing themselves.

Following the story, the elder told Church that one day she would write a song for her people. Church said by phone Thursday she was surprised by the prediction, as her music is not influenced by her heritage in either lyrics or sound.

She added she now believes “Native American” is that song. Church said she knew it was special when she wrote it, but she didn’t understand how it was to be used.

“You just knew at that time that this song was meant for something special, something big,” she said.

At first she tried to include it in the movie “Black Cloud,” but director Rick Schroeder rejected the track, saying he “loved it,” according to Church, but that it didn’t fit with the movie. Two of Church’s other songs were chosen for the film.

Church’s husband and producer, George Atcheynum of Eagle Hill Music, said the purpose became clear while the couple watched television one night.

They were watching a news magazine where former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch spoke on her experience. Among the topics discussed was Lynch’s friend and fellow soldier, Lori Piestewa. Piestewa was the first Native American woman member of the U.S. military killed in combat.

‘That’s what this has to be used for,’ Atcheynum remembers thinking, in regard to honoring Native American veterans, especially those who had paid the ultimate price. The couple then drove 27 straight hours from Canada to Arizona to meet the Piestewa family and present a traditional gift of mourning.
Church said she instantly connected with Lori’s mother, Percy.
“It was as if I had known her for 100 years,” she said.

Church and Percy Piestewa spoke about Lori and of stories of Native American woman who had fought and died for their people throughout history. It was then Church shared her visions of six years ago with Percy.

“Now the dream is starting to make sense. It was a gift, a blessing,” Church said.

The fulfillment of that dream will continue with the recording of the video and a companion documentary this weekend in Page, according to Church.

Atcheynum said he expects the song to be played on more than 2,000 radio stations, with the video appearing on at least one music television station, possibly two.

The documentary, which will tell the stories of the veterans who participate in the video, is also expected to hit regional and possibly national television stations. It is being produced by Tony Estrada, who has worked with ABC and PBS in the past.

Annie Fawn 09-07-2005 06:50 PM

WONDERFUL! I can't wait to see and hear it!

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