Words from a Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Navarro Scott Momaday. This profile delves into the psyche behind one of Native America's most celebrated authors of poetry and prose. Words from a Bear visually captures the essence of Momaday's writings, relating each written line to his unique Kiowa/American experience representing ancestry, place, and oral history.

Words from a Bear is a fresh and distinctive approach to biographical storytelling. Cinematically, this story takes audiences on a spiritual journey through the expansive landscapes of the West, when Momaday's Kiowa ancestry roamed the Great Plains with herds of buffalo, to the sand-painted valleys of Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico where his imagination ripened and he showed superior writing skills as a young mission student. The biography will give a thorough survey of Momaday's most prolific years as a doctorate fellow at Stanford University, his achievement of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1969, and his later works that solidified his place as the founding member of the "Native American Renaissance" in art and literature, influencing a generation of Native American artists, scholars, and political activists.

Although his unique heritage is a central theme of the narrative, Momaday's work asks the questions every audience can relate to: what are our origins and how do we connect to them through our collective memories? Through his literature and the cinematic visuals, the film will illuminate how Momaday has grappled with these basic questions of human existence and his own identity. The film reveals the most intimate details of the writer's personal life through his literary texts, along with the trials and tribulations he faced as a Native American artist in the twentieth and twenty first century. Historical photos, original animation, and stunning aerials of landscapes, complement captivating interviews with Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, James Earle Jones, and Joy Harjo, to bring audiences inside the creative core of this American Master.


Watch it on PBS American Masters later this year. 


Directed by: Jeffrey Palmer

Produced by:
American Masters Pictures
Vision Maker Media
Rainy Mountain Media
Independent Television Service (ITVS)


Done in collaboration with Molly Schwartz.

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