Lynnette Haozous: Meet the Artist Behind the Warrior Woman
When an image of the Apache warrior Lozen appeared on our site in March, reader reaction was intense; the depiction of the strong woman warrior, who fought alongside Geronimo, struck a chord with male and female readers alike. This Lozen, one Facebook reader commented, "makes Clint Eastwood look like Barney Fife!"
The image was not an archival photo but a still from a film, Apache Chronicle, and the young woman is an actress, Lynnette Haozous, San Carlos Apache/Navajo/Taos Pueblo. In addition to being an actress, Haozous is also an artist, part of the creative community that revolves around Douglas Miles' Apache Skateboards. (Apache Chronicle was co-directed by Miles and spotlighted the Apache artists Melissa Cody, Tasha Hastings, Rebekah Miles, and Razelle Benally as well.)
Haozous took some time to discuss her career, from Lozen to live art, with ICTMN.
You came to our attention for your work in an experimental documentary called Apache Chronicle, the story of the female members of the Apache Skateboards crew and the art they create. What sort of reaction has the film received?
I noticed the link to the review posted on Facebook, and it was so good to see so many people interested in this film, and good to see their reactions to just the image of me as Lozen. Seeing how many Native people connect to it and in a way feel a sense of strength and pride in seeing strong Native women using their talents for the better, is very encouraging. All of that inspires me to keep acting and creating. I have been thankful for our story and struggle to be captured in this film.
What are you up to, in terms of acting and art?
I am an actress and artist, and recently I have been focusing more on my artwork. I was in an art show in Taos, New Mexico, called Promo Hobo Art Installation. I recently received a SWAIA-Santa Fe Indian Market/Nativo Lodge Artist-In-Residency Fellowship, which is an opportunity to create and show my artwork. So I will be doing live art the week of June 18th-22nd at Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque as part of the Rising Artists Project. As far as acting I am currently in preproduction works in collaboration with Apache Skateboards/Douglas Miles and Razelle Benally, it is a follow up film in relation to Apache Chronicle.
What challenges do you face as a Native actress?
It’s challenging finding roles to portray, as an actress my mission is to break down the previously portrayed typical native stereotypes in film, for example "Indian princess" or "nostalgic native". I want to play roles of strong, inspiring, challenging, uniquely original characters, I don’t just want to be in the background, and play extras my whole career. I’m not in it for the glamor or fame, it is truly my passion. In that sense, I want to play roles that are not just "Native roles," but ones that are deep and challenging for me as an actress.
If the roles don’t exist, what is your solution?
You can’t wait around for Hollywood, or for the perfect role. So I am currently writing and developing scripts and characters I want to portray, or see portrayed. I have been greatly appreciative to have been in many short films, mostly through the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and grateful to have been in many theater productions here in New Mexico through the Native “Two Worlds Productions”, these have given me the opportunity to refine my skills as an actress and the opportunity to play such inspiring roles.
Like Lozen in Apache Chronicle. What was special about that role?
It was special because the role of the Native woman warrior and their stories throughout history and in film has been pushed aside. So it felt great to bring this woman’s story to life, and it was an honor to portray her. It was also special because I had the opportunity to write my own monologue based on the Apache woman warrior. All the positive feedback on how strongly people felt about the piece inspires me to continue developing my skills as a writer, and actor. I think it’s important to create your own opportunities and not wait around for them.
Are you ultimately optimistic about the state of Native theater and filmmaking?
I do come across intriguing, genuinely original characters by a lot of up and coming filmmakers and playwrights, and it’s a relief that Native people are taking their portrayal of themselves into their own hands, and breaking down those previous stereotypes that have been portrayed in the film industry. I hope I will contribute to this refreshing new era in taking back our image as well.
What’s next for Apache Chronicle?
We’ve recently entered the film into some Native film festivals; we will be screening it at Red Nation Film Fest in Los Angeles in November, and I'm sure other screenings will arise as well. If anyone would like to request a screening, or to find out more information about where the next screenings will be, as well as follow the other woman artists in the film, we have created a an Apache Chronicle Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ApacheChronicle.
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