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“The Good Mind” Film Screening and Panel Discussion

November 6, 2:00 pm6:00 pm


“The Good Mind,” an award-winning feature documentary film, will be presented in correlation with the current art museum exhibition “Each One, Inspired: Haudenosaunee Art Across the Homelands,” as well as in celebration of Native Heritage Month.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion and a reception at the museum, which will be open until 6 p.m. for visitors to enjoy the exhibition.

Sponsored by the Syracuse Univeristy Art Museum, Department of  Religion, and The Indigenous Values Initiative.

Program Details:

2 p.m.: “The Good Mind” Screening

3:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion with Gwendolen Cates, Oren Lyons, Jake Edwards, Joe Heath, and Theresa Bear-Fox

4:30 p.m.: Reception in the Shaffer Hall Galleria outside Syracuse University Art Museum

About the Film

“The Good Mind,” created by Gwendolen Cates, is about the Onondaga Nation, the Central Fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which is guided by the Great Law of Peace, and never accepted U.S. citizenship. It follows Onondaga leaders during the climax of a legal battle with the U.S. over ancestral land taken by New York State in violation of a 1794 treaty with George Washington. Motivated by ancient prophecies, the Nation seeks environmental stewardship of their land and waters, which have suffered vast degradation by industrial resource extraction and pollution.

About the Filmmaker 

Gwendolen Cates is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker, photographer and author. Originally a photographer whose portraits of luminaries from Rosa Parks to George Clooney have been featured in national and international magazines, including PARADE, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Life, and People, her critically acclaimed book “Indian Country” (Grove Press 2001) inspired Oprah to begin a series on Native Americans. Her first award-winning documentary film “Water Flowing Together” (2007) about Navajo-Puerto Rican New York City Ballet star Jock Soto premiered nationally on PBS Independent Lens in 2008. Recent productions include “We Are Unarmed”(2020), a fresh look at the peaceful resistance to the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock through the eyes of three Indigenous women who played central roles; “The Good Mind”(2016), which follows Onondaga Nation leaders as they fight for environmental sovereignty of ancestral lands stolen by New York State in violation of a 1794 treaty with George Washington; and the short film “Guswenta” (2013) about the 400th anniversary commemoration of the first treaty between Indigenous people and early settlers on this land. Gwendolen’s latest feature documentary film “The Doctrine”is about the Doctrine of Discovery, 15th century papal bulls issued by the Vatican that continue to devastate Indigenous Peoples and the planet today, was filmed in the U.S., Rome, Italy, Guatemala, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, and is currently in post-production. Another film about the Yazidis and Mandaeans, original peoples of Iraq, titled “Mourning In The Garden of Eden” is also in post-production. A native New Yorker, and the daughter of a linguist who was fluent in Diné Bizaad (the Navajo language), Gwendolen studied cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago.


November 6
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm


Shemin Auditorium, Shaffer Art Building
Shaffer Art Building
Syracuse, NY 13244
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