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Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy named

Dallas, Texas (NFIC)

Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy, the award-winning film by Rich-Heape
Films of Dallas, was recently named "Best Documentary Feature" at the
31st Annual American Indian Film Institute Festival in San Francisco.

The film chronicles the forced removal of the Cherokees from their
southeastern U.S. homeland to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. During
the forced march in severe winter weather, an estimated 4,000 of
16,000 died. The survivors called it the "trail where they cried."

The film was endorsed by the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of
Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, which includes descendants of the
few Cherokees that avoided the removal.

Steven R. Heape, president and executive producer of Rich-Heape Films
and a Cherokee Nation citizen accepted the award for best documentary
in November at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. In his
acceptance speech, Heape praised Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad
Smith and Eastern Band of Cherokees Chief Michell Hicks for their
support of the documentary project and educating people worldwide
about Cherokee history and culture.

The long-running American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco
annually features more than 70 films about and by American Indians
from the U.S. and First Nations communities in Canada.

It was the second award the documentary received in a two-month
period. In October, it received the "Founders Award" at the
International Cherokee Film Festival in Tahlequah.

"We are extremely gratified with the awards," Heape said. "But it's
equally gratifying that so many people have attended the screenings
and we are informing people about a tragedy that is neglected in U.S.
history books."

Since its premier and an extended two-week at the Dream Theater in
Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, the film sold out its
debut at the 19th Dallas Video Festival in August at the city's
Angelkia Theater, as well as two screenings in December at the 7th
annual Santa Fe (N.M.) Film Festival.

In September, it was the opening film of the Denver Indigenous Film
Festival at the University of Denver.

The documentary has been accepted for showing in January at the
Alaska Native Heritage Center Film Festival in Alaska and the New
York Festival in February. Heape said he has been informed that it is
a finalist in its category at the international New York Festival.

"The words that have been written about the tragedy of the Trail of
Tears evoke heartbreaking images, but the evil work is not much more
than a footnote in history courses in most high schools and
colleges," Heape said. One of the goals of the film by Heape and R.Y.
"Chip" Richie, director and producer, is to move the story from a
footnote to the forefront.

Education has been a primary mission of Rich-Heape Films since the
collaboration was formed in 1982. With the mission to inform, educate
and encourage awareness of tribal histories, cultures, languages and
aspirations of Native Peoples through the creation, production and
distribution of audio/visual productions, the company has produced a
number of award winning films.

"I take pride in feeling that we produce films that educate people
about subjects that typically you're not going to find in your every
day educational program. We produce films designed to celebrate and
perpetuate Indian culture and language, as well as educate
non-Indians about the true history of what happened to many Native
nations after European contact," Heape said.

The film is presented in the Cherokee language with English subtitles
by Cherokee actor Wes Studi, known for his lead role in the film
Geronimo, as well as roles in Last of the Mohicans and Dances With
Wolves. The narrator is actor James Earl Jones. Also featured are the
voices of actor James Garner, John Buttram and singer/songwriter
Crystal Gayle.

Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy may be ordered from the Indian Country Trading Post eBay store by clicking here.

Information about the New York Festival can be accessed at: .