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From Bella Coola to Berlin

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Catalogue Number:  AP0001
Producer:  Aarrow Productions
Subject:  Canadian History, Canadian Social Studies, First Nations Studies, History, Social Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2006
Running Time:  60:00
Closed Captions:  Yes


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From Bella Coola to Berlin: They were known as Volkerschaus, people shows and human zoos. For Carl Hagenbeck, they were a lucrative business venture. Between 1870 and 1932, he brought over 50 Indigenous groups to Europe and exhibited them in zoos and theatres. One of his groups were nine Bella Coola Indians from Canada. The Bella Coola men arrived in Germany in 1885, leaving behind extreme poverty and cultural suppression in Canada. For one year they traded their cultural traditions for room and board and a decent wage. They were greeted with intense interest by German scholars, endless matinees and evening performances, and a cool response from German audiences who did not accept them as real Indians. From Bella Coola to Berlin tells the story of this remarkable journey that foreshadowed irreversible changes in Bella Coola that occurred shortly after the men returned. The documentary blends archival photographs, rare historic footage, dramatic vignettes and interviews with German scholars and Nuxalk Elders as it reconstructs the dancers' experience in Germany more than 125 years ago.

Filmmaker Bio: Barbara Todd Hager is a writer, producer and director. Her family traces its Métis ancestry to Red River, Fort Pitt and St. Paul des Métis Settlements. In 1999 she launched Aarrow Productions and it has grown into one of Canada’s leading Indigenous-owned media companies.


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