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Natives, whites are focus of local video

Aspen Times Staff Report

An Aspen woman is hoping to spread her message of reconciliation between whites and Native Americans though a video she has produced.

But for now, Sarah Pletts has essentially sunk her life savings into the project and is looking for a partner, or a source of funds, to keep it going.

Pletts, born in Boston, Mass. and raised in Florida, has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since the 1970s, working mostly as a dancer and dance instructor. She founded her own nonprofit organization, the Living Arts Foundation, as a vehicle for her work as a dancer and, recently, her work with Native American tribes and concepts.

Through her foundation, she has worked with elders and officials of the Ute tribe that once occupied the Roaring Fork Valley, and has met with Native Americans in other parts of the country.

Along the way she has studied the history of interaction between Native Americans and whites dating back in the late 1700s, and has concluded that much of the basic form of the U.S. Constitution was based on ideas borrowed from the five nations of the Iroquois.

The video is largely based on Pletts’ twin beliefs regarding white cultural guilt about the way Native American have been treated by the white culture in the United States, and her feelings that Native American culture contains ideals that white culture should adopt.

The video ends with a quote from the late John F. Kennedy, saying, “Our treatment of Indians … affects the national conscience. Before we can set out on the road to success, we have to know where we are going … and … where we have been in the past. It seems a basic requirement to study the history of our Indian people. Only through this study can we as a nation do what must be done.”

Pletts has been working with others with similar interests, including well-known skiing personality Suzy Chaffee and her Native Voices Foundation in Telluride.

Pletts said recently that she has been in touch with film festivals around the country about her video and a companion stage version, including the Sundance Film Festival.


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