Production Date: 
March, 1954
Warner Bros.
Dwight Weist, popular radio and TV announcer 1940s-50s
Run Time: 
"News Magazine of the Screen"

Warning: This film presents ancient and modern Native cultures as indistinguishable. Much visual content is incorrect and reflects the mainstream cultural biases of its time. The narrator's language is condescending and culturally insensitive.

Establishing shot: The scene begins overlooking a mountainous region of Arizona, (not) home to the Hohokam, believed by some to be an ancestral culture of the O'odham peoples. The camera then slowly pans to a Salado-culture cliff dwelling in what is now Tonto National Monument.
Named locations:  The (unnamed Tonto) cliffs of Arizona; the Theodore Roosevelt Dam; a central Arizona valley
Major themes covered: Oral traditions and teachings; Irrigation techniques of the Hohokam versus the modern techniques in use when the film was produced
Native activities shown: Anglo children are shown playing in the Salado cliff dwellings. "An Indian brave," curiously dressed in Navajo clothing,  brings his two grandchildren to see a Hohokam canal bed. [n.b., the cliff dwelling and the canal bed are approximetely 160 miles apart] The boy is dressed in Navajo clothing and the girl in Puebloan leggings with Navajo jewelry. The narrator tells  the story of how the Hohokam began irrigating in the desert while the Navajo family demonstrate scraping techniques. This attempt at re-enactment conflates ancient and modern northern and central Arizonan Native peoples as if they all were and are the same.  "With the Indians' passing, the area became arid again," says the narrator, reinforcing the notion of the Vanishing Indian.  Once the Roosevelt Dam is established as a mark of civilization and progress, the film returns to Native agriculture. This time, a Navajo woman is shown harvesting carrots with her "papoose" in a cradleboard amid a group of Anglo-dressed workers. Canals in the Phoenix valley, following Hohokam canal paths, abut date and citrus farms; a chubby Anglo boy eats dates off a palm tree. The narrator celebrates the Hohokam and modern Americans as inventors of all of this progress, one thousand years apart.
Individuals Named: None.
Native language spoken: None, all English narration.
Audio: Good quality audio.
Noteworthy elements: The film focuses on the Hohokam at the beginning, while erroneously implying that this desert culture were mountainous cliff-dwellers. In addition to the conflation of distinct ancient Salado and Hohokam cultures, there is a complete erasure of modern O'odham peoples who reside on the land and possibly trace their ancestry to the Hohokam. There is a dimension of show-Indian performance in presenting Navajo people as descendants of the Hohokam.

Other notes:

"Irrigation" is a section from the News Magazine of the Screen produced by Warner Bros. and distributed to schools on a subscription basis between 1950-58.  The issue in which the Irrigation report was included is Volume 4, No. 7, dated March 1954.--J. Fred MacDonald