Monday, 31 December 2012

1 EPISODE 12

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         Arthur Irwin made important changes.  He rewrote the National Film Act, which was then passed by Parliament.  It removed the Film Board from immediate government control.  He changed the bureaucratic structure, to make the Board more efficient.  And, though I didn't know it at the time, he had received from the Department of Indian Affairs a letter complaining about my film.  It said that the film was encouraging the Longhouse people to cling to their old ways, when the Department was trying to win all Indians to modern ones, to make ordinary citizens of them.  He had that to weigh, in how he dealt with me.
         I didn't resign.  Getting my promises fulfilled was far more important than any notion of integrity or self-esteem.  Instead, over the next few weeks, I kept bugging Irwin.  I would leave messages with his secretary, or, if I got the chance, speak to him in person.  At last he said Well, write me something.
         I drafted a letter, making it as much like a treaty as I could imagine.  With the change of a word or two, Arthur Irwin had it typed up on official government stationery, with the Canadian coat of arms.  He signed it, and it was sent to Deskaheh.
        The way was now clear for shooting on the Reserve.  And, by chance, the cameraman assigned to that was Denis Gillson.  He was the Board's most fastidious cameraman.  When he lit a scene he polished it until he had achieved every possible right effect.  And his physical handling of the camera was equally flawless.  The acting was largely a matter of indifference to him — that was up to the director, but if something cinematographic wasn't perfect he would ask for a retake.  With him camera work was a vocation, almost like a religious calling.  His father was the President of the University of Manitoba.
Denis Gillson. Courtesy of Ruth Gillson.
       Denis was dark-haired, slim, tallish, rather good-looking.  But he regarded all such things as trivial and unworthy of consideration.  The scenes on the Reserve were for him a minor throw-away job, but he shot them as conscientiously as he did everything else.  Except at the end, when I wanted night scenes of the dying chief's house and the Cayuga longhouse.  I can't shoot night scenes! Denis declared.  I'd have to have a whole battery of arc lights.  Then, the Film Board didn't even own one.
        All right, I said what's the professional answer?
        Denis shrugged.  Miniatures.
        I caught fire at that idea.  Will you take some pictures I can use as a guide?  
        He said I don't have a stills camera.  
        It was our last day.  Taking our rented car, I immediately drove pell-mell to Brantford, went into a newspaper building, talked my way through to the editorial office, and told the editor and some of his cohorts of my plight.  You've got to lend me a camera! I said.  They were so astonished that they gave me film for it and a Speed Graphlex, a large bellows device that was the favourite news camera of that era.
Iroquois mother and children. National Film Board of Canada.
       Denis took the pictures, I made measurements, we returned the camera with thanks and headed back to Ottawa.
        How'd it go? Tom Daly said.
        Fine, I answered.  But we couldn't shoot night scenes.  I'll have to make miniatures.
        It's as if I'd said shit on the Queen.  To mention, at the NFB, the citadel of the documentary, something so foreign, so outlandish, so Hollywoodish, was horrific!  Tom was consumed with anger.  Flushing, he half rose in his chair — I thought he was going to strike me.  Absolutely not! he cried.
        But by now I knew what I had to do.  I didn't argue.  I bought two four-by-eight foot, three-quarter inch thick plywood sheets to use as a base for each miniature, and started building the miniatures at night and on weekends, in my basement.  However, it was slow work, because during the day I had to do what I was assigned, be it to be on the Rockpileor whatever.
        Arthur Irwin, as part of the changes he made when he became Commissioner, had brought in from one of the leading advertising agencies a tough, straight-talking man, Don Mulholland, whom he made Director of Production.  Mulholland sent a memo to Daly, and Tom, beckoning me over, showed it to me.  It said — "To Tom Daly.  Re: The Longhouse People.  We've already wasted $15,000 on this goddamned film.  When's it going to be finished?  Signed Mul".
         I said humbly, I'm working on the miniatures.  Tom sighed and gave me an exasperated look.
         Now I knew I'd better hurry.  I asked Tommy, my driver and friend from Eaton's Decorative Displays Department, for help.  He had travelled across Canada with the Central Mortgage and Housing exhibit and then had gone on working for the CMHC, and was living with his new wife, Alice, in Ottawa.  Tommy was good at making small things.  He gave freely of his time and refused any remuneration.  It was just as well; I had nothing from which to pay him.
        We completed the miniatures fairly quickly.  However, for a background on which to paint trees I still needed a large sheet of plate glass.  The glass would cost $30.  I didn't have it.  I asked Tom Daly, but he didn't want to give it to me.  He thought it would be a further waste of the Board's money.  Eventually he did authorize it from our unit's petty cash.
        Then there was no place to shoot the miniatures.  The theatres were booked; every suitable place in the Board was occupied.  It seemed I had nowhere to turn.  But then Bill Stevenson, from the Board's Information Department, whose offices were downtown, told me they had a small storeroom.  He said it was packed full of boxes, but if I carried them out, perhaps I could use it.  We measured the room, and it was just big enough to hold the miniatures, one at a time.  Moving them there was precarious, but we managed.
        Red Lemieux was once more assigned to the film, this time to shoot the miniatures.  He thought them a bad joke.  Disliking everything about the job — the miniatures, the downtown office location, the cramped room — he nonetheless irritably made an effort.
        The Board's own lab processed black-and-white, but colour film was sent to Toronto for treatment at the Kodak plant.  It took about two weeks to come back.  When the footage of the miniatures did, a screening was arranged in the little off-hall theatre.  A small crowd of people gathered to watch.  Many were interested and curious, as it was a first for the Board.  The screen lit up and the miniatures came on.
        My heart sank.  They looked like miniatures.  Tom Daly was sitting in front of me.  He turned and gave me a supercilious glance that said — see, you've wasted everyone's time and money once again!

Next:  Surprise

Sunday, 23 December 2012

0 EPISODE 11

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        Marius Barbeau went to the head of the Film Board, Ross McLean, and told him we had captured priceless footage.  It should be made, Barbeau said, into five shorter films —
one for each ceremony — for university anthropological use.  McLean listened, and ordered it done.
        When the news reach me. I was appalled.  No!  I cried to Tom Daly.  We can't do that!  If the Indians had known that they would never have come, would never have shown us anything!  And I refused, absolutely, to do it.
        Tom could see that I was so adamant that no persuasion would help.  He could have had me fired.  The Film Board could have fired me.  It was, after all, their footage, not personally mine, however much I felt it was.  But I wasn't fired.  Instead the footage was put on a shelf, and I was assigned to the Rockpile.  The Rockpile, as I called it, was a closet just large enough to hold a 16mm projector and a pile of cans of film that had been so badly directed, or so badly shot (photographed) that it couldn't be used.  And there was just enough room left for a single person to squeeze into.
        (The Film Board was then on the west bank of the Ottawa River in an old brick building that had previously been a sawmill.)  Being on the Rockpile was a mark of disfavour.  I was so often on the Rockpile during my first years that I managed to put together a short film that actually won an award in some obscure festival.  And I was given other petty duties too.  I think one was helping to catalogue World War II shooting.
        The cans of picture and sound of the Iroquois footage sat on a shelf about ten feet from Tom Daly's desk.  But there was a wall between them.  The shelf was in our unit's cutting room, which was next door to our Unit B's general room, and Tom's small private office was in a corner of that.
        One day, some weeks later, I was coming along the hall when I heard my music coming from the cutting room.  I went in, and there was Tim Wilson bent over a moviola, running the Indian footage.  A moviola is a machine used for editing, which allows picture and sound to be run separately, but in sync (synchronization).
        Tim Wilson was a good deal senior to me.  A good-looking, clean-cut guy.  I said Tim, what are you doing?
        He said I've been assigned to cut this footage.
        To do what?
        To make five separate films of it, he said.
        I said Tim, you can't do that!  And I told him the whole story.  He immediately said I'm not going to do it.  I'm not going to be a scab!
        The cans were put back on the shelf.  But now I was worried.  So each day, after I had done my assigned work, I went back at night, and on weekends, to cut the film my way.  Tom Daly was sometimes at his desk in the evenings, and I knew he could hear the Iroquois music through the wall.  He must have guessed what I was doing.  But he did and said nothing.  Or that I was aware of.
Arthur Irwin. National Film
Board of Canada.
        In my obstinacy I might have been helped by a change at the top.  Ross McLean was moved on, and a new Film Commissioner, W. Arthur Irwin, was brought in.  Arthur Irwin had been editor of Maclean's magazine for many years, in which he had developed a number of significant writers, Pierre Berton, June Callwood, Trent Frayne, Clyde Gilmour and others, and had made Maclean's into a truly national Canadian magazine.  It was said that he had been appointed Commissioner to clean up that nest of Communists.  If there were Communists at the Board I didn't know any, and I was puzzled about who might be targeted.  Norman McLaren maybe, because of his long hair.
        For a while my activities seemed to escape official notice.  Not that management concurred in what I was doing, but they were probably too distracted to care.  So Tom was not surprised when I told him I had finished cutting my material into a single film, and now needed outdoor connecting scenes.  That meant he would have to sanction what I had done and give me money to go on with.  And, though it seemed reluctant, in the end he did.
Howard Sky. Photograph by Wolf Koenig.
        I went to the Reserve and spoke to Deskaheh.  I could now speak to him face to face, in English.  I explained that they were only simple scenes I needed, but they would require the cooperation of some of those who had taken part before and a number of others.  He heard me out, and then said firmly that he wouldn't consent to our coming into the Reserve without the prior agreement of the faction that had been against the film before.  He wanted them to see what we had already done.
        The Council House in the Six Nations' main centre, Oshweken, was arranged for and a date set.  I brought the film, and the sound on two 78rpm vinyl records.  An amiable field man from the NFB Distribution Office in Guelph came with a portable screen, a projector and phonograph.  Deskaheh, the film participants, and curious sympathizers arrived on time.  Ten minutes passed.  Then fifteen.  Nothing.  I wondered if the other side was even going to show up.  Finally, twenty minutes late, followed by a large group of adherents, the Onandaga Councillor walked in.  He was a big, handsome man, who looked as if he couldn't be trifled with.
        The lights darkened and the film screened.  The NFB field man proved expert at dropping the needle at just the right time to achieve near sync.
        When the film of the ceremonies finished, the mixed audience, of about forty people — the Council House being nearly packed — was silent.  I didn't know, but assumed, that many of them were influential persons.  Then they began to talk among themselves.  A variety of languages might have been used; I was up front by the screen and kept looking at those who spoke, but could understand nothing.  Then Howard Sky, who was sitting about six rows back, got up and said in English that they would like to see the film again.
        We rescreened it, having no idea of why.  (I heard later that the Indians had found it so surprisingly authentic that they had wanted the satisfaction of seeing it once more.)  After the second screening there was additional talk and then Howard Sky said to tell them what I wanted.  I spoke easily, for now I knew and could see that most or all of them understood English.  I said the scenes were to be simple depictions of everyday work, not elaborate, but shot on the Reserve.  Some more talk followed and then Howard Sky said, Will you answer questions?
        He translated a few questions, but others came to me directly in English, from both men and women.  But none of the queries were specific.  It was as if when they wished to know about A, they asked about B.  I looked to Deskaheh for help, but he was sitting quietly, not saying anything.  The Onandaga Councillor also didn't speak; he let his supporters do it for him.  
        At last, putting this and that together, I realized the thrust of their concerns.  These ceremonies were sacred to them, indeed some had deliberately been kept from other peoples, and they wanted to know what would happen to the film, how it would be used.
        I then promised, with ardour, that the film would never be commercialized, would never be used in any money-making context.  I made more precise promises, in response to what they wanted: that the finished film would be screened on the Reserve every night for two weeks, so that everyone there would have a chance to see it, and a few more commitments of that sort.
        Afterwards Howard Sky said to me that I now had general approval.
        Back at the Board I told the Commissioner what I had done.  You'll have to put it in writing I said.  Like a treaty.  
        Arthur Irwin stared at me.  I will do no such thing, he said.  What gave you the right  who were you  to speak for the Canadian government?  
        Abashed, I cried I'll have to resign!
        So resign, he said.

Next:  Another crisis.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

0 EPISODE 10

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        There followed a long, grave discussion between Deskaheh and Howard Sky. Then Howard Sky, with Deskaheh standing beside him, spoke to the whole group of Indians. All looked serious. No one answered back. There were cast-down eyes, and some small shakes of head. I was becoming anxious, because its tone wasn't encouraging, and because it was taking valuable time. I didn't understand any of it, but knew I couldn't interfere.
 Finally Howard Sky and Deskaheh came to me. The crew had also been standing around, waiting. Deskaheh said something to Howard Sky, and Sky faced me. This, with the False-Faceshe said is not shown to outsiders. Even among our own people it is kept secret. It's only for those involved. He paused, then said Even if we did it for you, none of us is willing to be the dying chief.
False-Faces. National Film Board of Canada.
 At last I understood. Not only secrecy, but superstition prevented them. To assume the role of a dying man could invite mortal consequences. That might have been the end of it, but Barbeau had told me of an elderly man, a Mohawk, a retired civil servant, who was Christian and lived in Ottawa. Frantically phoning, we were able to get in touch with him, and he agreed to come down.
 He arrived that afternoon, and seemed impressed, moved, even flattered to join in. And had no objection to taking the part of a dying man. If anything, he said it would be an honour. But by then, as the working day was almost spent, and our Christian had to bring some pajamas, we decided to adjourn until the following morning.
 When we gathered again, the Indians didn't tell us what they were going to do. They took over the room set and picked up branches from where, for reality, Arthur Price had put them, along with a genuine small tree, outside the longhouse set window. With broken branches they lit a wood fire in the stove. Deskaheh watched the smoke rise. I knew what that meant: on the smoke the prayers would be carried up to heaven. Howard Sky stood back; it seemed he wasn't taking part in this ritual. The elderly Christian got into bed. An older woman, Mrs. Green, sat on the edge of it beside him. But she had first asked for some corn oil, and had poured a bit into a bowl.
Scene of dying chief. Photograph by Wolf Koenig.
  There was a fresh, extensive roll of film in the camera. I told Red Lemieux to cover the whole scene, then to unobtrusively start the camera and let it run until I said cut. Deskaheh, beside the stove, intoned some prayers, and with each he dropped a little tobacco from a pouch into the fire. As he did the fire flared and the smoke rose more thickly. The drummer, beating on the floor with a small turtle rattle, made from what had been a real turtle, accompanied himself in a stirring song. Then the set door opened and, on their knees, in came the False-Faces with large rattles. And I grasped, from their inhuman movements, that when they donned the masks they became spirits.
  Barbeau was there that day, and he crept up behind me and whispered in my ear, I can't believe this is happening. That we're actually seeing this!
        It was rumoured, I had read, that in some Iroquois communities the False-Faces were barely tolerated, and in rare instances had even been banned, and had to go underground. Clearly, their effect was psychic. As with any cult or religion, if their tenets were sufficiently believed, and the faith of believers strong enough, the effect on behaviour and bodily reactions could be far reaching.
        On our next and last day, at the usual morning huddle of the three of us, I asked Howard Sky and Deskaheh for the death ceremony. There ensued a long discussion between the two of them, and though I couldn't understand, nor even knew what language they were using, I could tell from the way it was going that it didn't bode well for me. At the end of it they were silent. Then Deskaheh turned to me, and speaking directly to me for the first time, he said, quietly, in quite good English, It's against our teachings to make a pretence of death. We've been considering whether the film would be such a pretence, and we feel it would. Therefore we won't do the death ceremony.
        I was astonished and struck dumb. Deskaheh acutely comprehended and spoke English! But what he had said was shattering. I had come so close, only to lose out now. Filled with despair, not knowing what to say, and at that moment scarcely being able to think of rescuing anything from the ruins, I was again surprised when Deskaheh added, We could do the installation of a new chief, which begins with mourning and ends in celebration. Wouldn't that fit your cycle just as well?  Instantly I was elated.  I realized he had understood me all along, and had done all that he had because he thought the idea of a life cycle really did represent the essence of their beliefs. And the installation ceremony was even better, culminating in rebirth.
        It was a long ceremony, starting with Indian flute music and mournful song, and gradually building to a solemn investiture and rejoicing. At the scheduled time, the Iroquois departed, having performed all and more of what had been wanted. And I allowed myself a relaxed breath and a tenuous feeling of satisfaction. I was still anxious that the film and sound come through processing intact. They did.
 Then dear, learned, charming, wonderful Dr. Barbeau wrecked havoc.

Next:  Turmoil

Sunday, 9 December 2012

0 EPISODE 9

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        The situation was tense.  The camera was on its tripod and ready.  The cameraman, Hector Lemieux, was waiting impatiently.  He was called Red for his hair colour, and indeed he had a somewhat fiery temper, and seemed a little amused by and sceptical of this whole enterprise.  The assistant cameraman had twice measured the distance to where the performer would be, and was prepared to make the final adjustment to focus.  The sound assistant was holding in his hands his long boom with its wind-muffled microphone.  And on the horizon the sun was beginning to break though the low band of dissipating dawn cloud.         
        We were all, the entire group of Indians with us, a few miles from Ottawa on a property owned by Arthur Price, whose house was nearby.  We were going to shoot on 16mm Kodachrome, and record on a large flat spool of magnetic tape.
   
Morning Prayer: opening scene,
The Longhouse People. 
National Film Board of Canada.
        The words of the Morning Prayer had yesterday been given to Martin Hill, the newly-made actor — who in reality wasn't an actor, and hadn't thought to rehearse — and he was looking distressed.  The red ball of the rising sun was already part way up.  I was perplexed.  As the director it was up to me to do something, but I lacked the language to speak effectively.  Then Deskaheh stepped in.  He coached Hill, going over each word in Mohawk.  And quickly went over the lines again and again.
  The sun had risen as high as it could be for the shot, and I said we had to go ahead.  Deskaheh moved back, Hill straightened up, and I said Camera. Action!
  The film terms were new to the Indians, but they understood.  Hill spoke his lines without undue faltering, and I said Cut.  That was it.  The sun was now too high for the shot to be repeated.  Then Deskaheh, by gestures, took earphones from the soundman and had the take played back for him.  At the end of listening he nodded, satisfied.
  Though I felt relief, I was too keyed up to dwell on it.  The weather was clear, and promised to continue, which I had also been hoping for, and through Howard Sky I proposed to Deskaheh that we go on with a Rain Dance, a supplication for rain.  This, I said, would represent the struggle for life.
Allan Wargon with Deskahe (L) and Howard Skye (R). Philippine trainee 
in background.  National Film Board of Canada.
  The Indians all had native names in their own languages, usually inspired by what had been around them when they were born, but for many generations past they had also  used English names, either adopted or translated and anglicized from the meaning of their given ones.  As I learnt their English names, I called them — except for Deskaheh — respectfully, by those.  For the Indian name pronunciations I had no aptitude nor time.
  When we returned to Ottawa in the late afternoon, we had two ceremonies in the can, and had gained a day for contingency.
It was soon to be absorbed.
  However, the next ceremony, of thanksgiving, which, as I explained through Howard Sky, would represent the fulfillment of life, went quite well.  It took place in the longhouse set on the theatre stage, and was fully enacted, with many takes.  As he had with the Rain Dance, Deskaheh listened through earphones to the sound of every shot, and if he didn't like something, we did it again.  Without mentioning it, he seemed determined that everything be right.
  Yet our entire company of Indians were really only a handful of people, whereas in real life the longhouse would have been full.  But Dr. Barbeau, who would drop in from time to time, marveled at it all.
  In addition to him, there was the occasional stills photographer and new trainee sent by Tom Daly.  One trainee, Wolf Koenig, was quick to grasp what I intended with each  set up, and once made a good suggestion.  He went on to a notable career of forty-seven years with the Film Board.
  The next thing I wanted was for a ceremony to represent the decline of life.  I had read about the False-Faces, and through Barbeau we had obtained from the National Museum some of the masks.  They were carved from wood, with grotesque grimaces, and hung on either side with long black hair.  If the mask was red, it meant it was morning, with the sun on its face.  If black, then it was evening, with the sun behind it.
  That much I had from reading, as well as that the False-Face Society was secret.  And that it effected real cures, both psychological and physical.  But there was no description to be had of the actual ritual.
  The room set, which Arthur Price had made, and a cot, and all the other necessary props, were ready.  What I had in mind for the scene was that there would be a dying chief, and the False-Faces would come to revive him.
  But when I asked for this, Howard Sky and Deskaheh looked at each other.

Next: The unbelievable

Monday, 3 December 2012

1 EPISODE 8

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        Upon returning to Ottawa I read eagerly all I could find about the Iroquois.  There was a good deal of material, though in some instances it contained vague, general descriptions, because those particular rituals had never been witnessed by white men.  But, with a little imagination, I was able to outline a life cycle.  And undaunted, hardly yet knowing which end of the camera took the pictures, I proposed to Tom Daly that I make a film about the Indians.
        He was not unsympathetic, but doubtful and cautious.  Every film had a budget, and each unit an overall budget, and Tom was responsible for ours, so any project he approved had financial consequences.  But at least he authorized me to explore the possibilities at the Six Nations Reservation on the Grand River.


The Structure of a traditional Iroquois longhouse, when it was a domicile.
Construction began with forked poles set in the ground.  Then more vertical
and horizontal poles were added, and the whole framework lashed together
with rope of wood fibers.  The covering was of broad sheets of tree bark,
applied like shingles.  More poles were placed outside the bark, and when
finished the longhouse was a very sturdy building.  It would reach 15 or 20
feet high, and be anything from 40 to 200 feet long. It was designated
as belonging to a certain clan, and though a number of families lived in it,
all the women and their children were members of that clan.
        What I had learnt from reading was that the Iroquois League or Confederacy (scholars disagreed about just what it was, when it was so named, or its possible influence on the American Constitution) had been formed about the year 1450 (though some argued that the date might have been about a century earlier) between warring groups or tribes, later called nations, to establish peace among the main Iroquois-speaking peoples.  What wasn't in any doubt was that it was a matrilineal society, in which all continuity was through the mother's line, and that though men were the formal leaders, it was the women who held ultimate power. Also that the names of the fifty men who formed the first universal Council thereafter became the hereditary names, sort of titles, of those who succeeded them.
        Finding my way on the Reserve, I was able to secure the help of an interpreter, Howard Sky, and he led me to Deskaheh, a hereditary Councillor.  Deskaheh, whose family name was Alex General, was an older man, tall, lean, grey-haired, dressed in overalls and heavy boots.  To him, through the interpreter, I ardently explained my idea of an absolutely honest and authentic film that would express a life cycle based on their traditional ceremonies.  He listened impassively, his guarded face betraying no shade of either approval or repudiation.  I asked, hesitantly, whether the Indians would be willing to do this.
        But it proved not that simple.  There was behind the question a complex history.  The American colonists, in their revolutionary war, had warred against the Iroquois too, destroying many Indian villages in what is now upper New York State.  And besides, Iroquois loyalty to the British, with whom there were treaties, was meaningful to large numbers of warriors. They crossed into Canada and helped to secure it for the Crown.  In acknowledgment of the loss of their own lands, and in payment for their military services, by the Haldimand Proclamation the Iroquois were granted an area six miles on each side of the Grand River, from its source to where its mouth empties into Lake Erie.
        Through land sales, and some chicanery, the granted realm had hugely shrunk, to only 5% of its original size, about six square miles near Brantford.  That city was named for the place where the Iroquois war chief Joseph Brant had crossed the river — Brant's ford.
        The hereditary Council had conducted the affairs of the community until 1924, when the Canadian government arbitrarily abolished the Council and forcibly instituted an elected Council.  But the Indians who hadn't become Christian — for the Reserve was constantly assaulted by every kind of missionary — had refused to recognize the new Council or take part in elections.  They continued to practise their old customs and to uphold their hereditary Councillors, and were called by the ancient name of the Iroquois, the people of the Longhouse.
Marius Barbeau and his son-in-law Arthur Price. Museum of Civilization,
circa 1960, 2004-020.
        However, I soon learnt that there were factions even within the Longhouse people, who were scattered among all six nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora.  
        Deskaheh, a Cayuga, was both a hereditary Councillor and a religious leader of the Cayuga longhouse.  In our talks, one-sided though they were, I continued to stress the concept of a life cycle, secretly the theme of my unfinished paintings.  And Deskaheh was inclined, I heard from Howard Sky, to view favourably a film that would show a true picture of Longhouse beliefs, as a counter to the preachings of the missionaries, who called the Longhouse people pagans.  But —  there was an equally important hereditary Councillor, an Onandaga, who said about the idea that nothing good had ever come of Iroquois dealings with white men.  Let them stew in their ignorance! he declared.
        Because of opposition from that group, Deskaheh declined to cooperate.  This was particularly defeating, for he himself had the authority to let us film on the Reserve and 
in his longhouse.
        That night for me was bitter, but by dawn I had another idea.  What if, I asked Howard Sky, some Longhouse persons, the more the better, going as individuals, came to Ottawa and enacted the ceremonies there?  All their travel and living expenses would be paid.  Might that be possible (Barbeau paid the Indians to sing or recite for him, but, on my own, I didn't dare go that far.)  However I was delighted to hear later that Deskaheh had accepted the idea, and had even decided to lead the group himself.
        Tom Daly was slightly overwhelmed.  I had suddenly brought back an elaborate production already under way, with costs he hadn't previously approved.  But he agreed that it was a unique opportunity.  And, no doubt with some misgivings, told me to go ahead.
        Just before leaving the Reserve I had taken measurements and made sketches of the Cayuga longhouse, and these I gave to Arthur Price, who happened to be Barbeau's son-in-law, but was a good artist and a fine set designer.  On the stage of a theatre we rented, Price erected a duplicate of the longhouse interior, which looked much like the real thing.  And he prepared a set of a house interior for another scene.  
        Only about a dozen persons were willing to come to Ottawa.  So from Caughnawaga, an Indian Reservation near Montreal, a few additional people were enticed.  They too were Iroquois, and not unfamiliar with what I wanted.
        The Six Nations group and other Indians, men and women, arrived and were conducted to their hotel, where arrangements had been made in advance.  The following morning they were taken to the longhouse set, thought it acceptable, and then spent a guided day visiting the National Museum and other sightseeing places.  But they had committed to only a week, which left five days, and I had scripted five ceremonies.  That meant we had to film one ceremony each day.
        And there was a basic issue to be settled.  The individual Indians spoke different languages.  What was to be the language of the film?  Deskaheh and Howard Sky conferred, with, of course, my not understanding a word they said, and decided on Mohawk.  They thought most Indians were likely to comprehend it.  So we prepared for the first ceremony, a man's morning prayer to the rising sun, which we would shoot (film) outdoors at the appropriate time.
        We were all set up, out in the country, when it was discovered that for the prayer the man I had chosen didn't speak Mohawk.

Next: Stumbling on.