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Rich-Heape Films Cherokee Trail of Tears

Very interesting article. I've copied the majority of the article from New Video Release from Rich-Heape Films. The link is:

Indians, Historians, Celebrities Recount Shameful Era
In New Documentary: ‘Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy’

DALLAS (March 13, 2006) – Rich-Heape Films, Inc., a Dallas-based Native American-owned corporation, released this month “The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy.” The two-hour, high-definition feature documents the forced removal in 1838 of the Cherokee Nation from the southeastern United States to Oklahoma.

Wes Studi, the best known Cherokee actor, presents the documentary film, speaking on camera in his native tongue (with subtitles). Noted actor James Earl Jones, who is of blended African and Cherokee heritage, narrates in his customary and convincing tones. They are supported by the celebrity voices of actor James Garner, singer Crystal Gayle, actor John Buttram and former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder reading diary excerpts, and a host of historical experts from major universities.

“Uniquely, a Cherokee is recounting this shameful chapter in American history,” said Steven R. Heape, Executive Producer and a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation. “This is no ‘Hollywoodization’ of an American holocaust. The Trail of Tears actually drove the Five Civilized Tribes – Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw and Muscogee Creek – from their native lands.”

Commenting in the film on the “Cherokee Tragedy” are authors and historians Robert J. Conley; Dr. Brett Riggs and Dr. Theda Purdue, both of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Daniel Littlefield, University of Arkansas; John B. Finger, head of Native American Studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Dr. Duane King, Executive Director of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

“My reason for wanting to accurately tell this story of The Trail Of Tears goes back to the day in 1985 when I received my tribal citizenship. My Uncle Gene Heape of Dallas sat me down and told me the story of the Trail of Tears. In proper Cherokee culture, this was his responsibility and is ‘the way’ in which younger Cherokees learn the true story of our people.”

The documentary is endorsed by the Cherokee Nation, headquartered in Tahlequah, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, based in Cherokee, NC. “The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy” DVD can be ordered online at or by calling toll free 888-600-2922. (MC, V, D, AE, Purchase Orders at Fax 214-696-6306, check or money order.) UPC# 652645680033

Natives, Actors, Re-enactors

Wes Studi, best remembered for his role in the movie “Last of the Mohicans,” is a “compelling and knowledgeable native actor,” emphasized Heape, himself a descendant of Nancy Ward, the Cherokee Chieftainess who survived the Bell’s Route journey. “Another eloquent voice in the film is Gayle Ross, great-great-great granddaughter of John Ross, the principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation at the time of the forced march.”

James Earl Jones helped explore the fusion and unique ancestry of American Indian and Black heritage when he narrated “Black Indians: An American Story,” a 60-minute documentary produced by Rich-Heape Films in 2000. It was the first Native American-produced documentary to air on national network television, ABC-TV, during Black History Month in February 2003.

Special acknowledgement should go to Principal Chiefs Chad Smith of the Cherokee Nation and Michelle Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for their vision and dedication to educating on tribal history.

James Neel of James Neel Music House in Dallas composed the original score with music contribution by the musical group “Walela” (Hummingbird in Cherokee) -- Rita and Priscilla Coolidge and Laura Satterfield.

Hitler Studied Indian Removal Act

“It is a distressing fact that Adolph Hitler studied President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 when planning the isolation and decimation of European Jews,” Heape recalled. “Perhaps, that is one reason there is an abiding worldwide interest today in the ongoing relationship between the U.S. Government and its Native populace.”

”Just as the Jewish holocaust victims don’t want their story forgotten, neither do American Indians. As sad as the story is, it is part of our country’s heritage and history,” the filmmaker stated. “Just last week, the Cherokee Supreme Court formally ruled that Cherokee Freemen can now be recognized as Citizens, a right that was in limbo for 165 years. Even today the painful chapter continues.”

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