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University of Iowa News Release


April 9, 2006

Native American Singer And Film Producer To Speak At UI April 12

The University of Iowa Lecture Committee will present two events Thursday, April 12 celebrating Native American art and culture. At 2:30 p.m., director/producer Heather Rae (photo, left) will introduce a screening in the Bijou Theatre of her film about Native American poet and activist John Trudell. Later that evening, Rae will appear with singer/songwriter Star Nayea, who will speak and perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

Trudell had been scheduled to speak at the UI April 12, but because of unforeseen personal circumstances, his lecture has been cancelled. Instead, Nayea will speak about her personal experiences as a Native American child growing up with an adopted family. A short performance with a trio of musicians will follow the lecture.

Both events free and open to the public and are part of Native American Arts and Culture Week sponsored by the American Indian Student Association at the UI.

Nayea (photo, right)is one of the thousands of Native American children who were taken from their homes in the 1960s and 1970s before the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. According to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a lack of understanding of tribal cultures and child-rearing practices by state child welfare agencies and courts was a significant factor in this widespread removal of Native American children from their homes.

When she was 2 months old, Nayea was placed in a foster home in the suburbs of Detroit and faced abuse there. She is still searching for her Native American birth family.

Influenced by Detroit's rock n' roll and Motown music scene, Nayea toured extensively and became a successful musician. She has recorded and sung with Native American performers such as Robbie Robertson, Rita Coolidge, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robert Mirabel and Keith Secola. At the 2001 Native American Music Awards, she won the award for Best Independent Recording for her EP album "Somewhere in a Dream."

Now residing in New Mexico, Nayea performs across the United States and Canada, and presents an outreach program for Native American youth called "The Healing Power of Music."

At the Bijou screening, Rae will introduce her film "Trudell" and be available for questions afterward. The film portrays the multi-dimensional life of Trudell, who was a spokesperson for the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1968 and chairman of the American Indian Movement in the turbulent 1970s. Trudell went on to be an internationally recognized poet, recording artist and actor.

Rae spent 13 years working on the project and premiered the film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. It has been shown at film festivals across the world and won prizes at the Artivist and Seattle International festivals.

Rae, a Cherokee director and producer, has worked in some production capacity on more than a dozen documentaries and several feature films through her nearly 20 years in the film industry. Her other film experience includes work as an actress, editor and film crew member. From 1995-2001, Rae ran the Native Program at the Sundance Institute and was a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival. During this period, she nurtured the work of more than 50 emerging Native American screenwriters and filmmakers.

Prior to her years at Sundance, Rae was a producer on several documentary films on CBS, PBS and Turner Broadcasting. After leaving Sundance in 2001, she went on to work for Winter Films as a senior vice president of production. Her many film projects include "A Thousand Guns," (2002) a film directed by Julian Goldberger, "Backroads," a film directed by Shirley Cheechoo, which premiered at Sundance in 2000; "Sawtooth" (2004); and "Silent Tears" (1998).

She has worked independently on such projects as "American Monster," a 2005 feature film she produced starring Adam Beach, Gary Farmer and Udo Kier. In 2006, she completed production work on "Water Flowing Together: The Story of Jack Soto." Currently, she is producing four films.

Rae is an adjunct professor of communications at Boise State University, chairs the board of the regional True West Cinema Festival and is on the board of a community TV affiliate. The mother of three children, she resides with her family in Boise.

For more information, see

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: UI Lecture Committee, 319-335-3255.