From the mystic origins of “the Force” to Princess Leia’s iconic Hopi-inspired squashblossom whorl hairstyle, Native American culture is often associated with elements of George Lucas’ Star Wars series. On Friday, these similarities come full circle, as the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Navajo Nation Museum, presents Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope dubbed in Navajo.
The 1977 space opera was the first installment in the epic sci-fi series (until the prequels came out in 1999, that is). It tells the story of a galaxy immersed in civil war and the Rebel Alliance that plots to take the Galactic Empire’s Death Star down.
The screening launches the MIAC’s Native Film Series, which aims to showcase two films a month inside the museum’s Kathryn O’Keeffe Theater.
“There’s only a handful of venues across the country that focus on Native films,” Jhane Myers, the cultural institution’s Native film and culture programmer tells SFR. “If we can get a good response and the general public wants to see Native films, this will be a great place for it.”
Native-owned Knifewing Productions dubbed the Diné audio in its Gallup recording studio, marking the first time a major motion picture has received the Navajo treatment.
Myers’ connections, acquired during her decade-long work in film, as well a previous stint in the National Museum of the American Indian, were instrumental in securing the movie for its Santa Fe premiere.
The move, she says, was designed as a way of furthering the preservation of indigenous languages.
The cross-generational appeal of the film, she hopes, seals the deal.
“I love Star Wars and I have a 15-year-old son,” Myers says. “Not only was Star Wars an important part of my life when I was young, but I have continued to live and breathe it through my son.”
Those not fluent shant worry, as it is subtitled in English.