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Indian Horse: A Conversation with Actor Ajuawak Kapashesit

“… Having people that represent you on screen is a luxury that most native people never really get…It’s typically in the 1700s and 1800s in a nondescript tribe where a lot of the time we’re background characters, not the important focus of the story… Film has a great opportunity to create a lot of empathy…  If you’re a non-native person coming to this film, you get into that reality of the historical context of why native people have been disenfranchised and what’s going on in those communities and how certain people’s trauma has manifested in certain ways…It’s very exciting to give people that opportunity to see the world from a different point of view.” – Ajuawak Kapashesit

Ajuawak Kapashesit spent much of his youth on the White Earth reservation near Ponsford, MN.  He's both Anishinaabe and Cree and he stars in the movie Indian Horse. The film adaptation of the Richard Wagamese novel, opened in Canada in 2017.  Indian Horse makes its Minnesota debut in Bemidji this Friday, March 1st. 

Saul Indian Horse, an eight year old Ojibwe, is separated from the love of his family and relocated to a residential Catholic boarding school in Canada.  Indian Horse brings to light the dark history of North America when Indigenous children were torn from their families in an effort to “reprogram” them. While attending the boarding school, young Saul endures and witnesses traumas that were, until then, unimaginable to him.  Hockey becomes his survival mechanism. Though his athletic abilities lead him to playing professionally, Saul is unable to process the ghosts of his past. His healing begins only when forced to confront his painful memories.  Indian Horse is Saul’s story.  

“Saul is a very interesting person. He’s one of these people I’ve come across many times in my life.  He’s kind of a quieter fella, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything substantive going on…I oftentimes find that people who are oftentimes the quietest, who are usually neglected or not paid much attention to, are the ones who have something really interesting to say.” – Ajuawak Kapashesit 

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.