TSENACOMMACAH

Tsenacommacah, is what the Powhatan called their territory of Tidewater Virginia. Roughly translated as, “densely inhabited land”. An experiential recall takes form through the spiritual symbology of the region in this sensory short film. Ahone the Creator, comes from the rising sun. But there were other spirits as well—Okee, the trickster of Chaos. A dance unfolds between them...

In a recorded Powhatan creation story, Ahone the Creator, who sometimes took the form of a Great Hare, comes from the rising sun carrying a magic bag that man and women were kept inside of. After creating the world and populating it with deer, Ahone took man and woman from the bag and placed them into the world to live in harmony… But there were other Spirits that the Powhatan believed in as well, darker Spirits that brought suffering and ruin. Offerings of tobacco and jewelry were made to Okee, the ruler of the underworld to appease him… There was also a story of a large crystal quartz cube that had stood at the Powhatan temple of Uttamusack on the Pamunkey river. It was said that it was so clear that you could see a single hair (Hare) through it… we are left with the image of a child making an offering and prayer to the rising sun, which was said to be a custom among the Powhatan. In her hands, she holds life…

  • Ethan Brown
    Director
  • Caleb Hendrickson
    Director
  • Federico Cuatlacuatl
    Director
  • Napawisha
    Key Cast
    “Ahone”
  • Caleb Brown
    Key Cast
    “Okee”
  • Arabella Roberson
    Key Cast
    “Child”
  • Joshua Rodenberg
    Sound Design
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 4, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Ethan Brown, Caleb Hendrickson, Federico Cuatlacuatl

Ethan Brown is a Pamunkey artist working in multiple mediums. He resides on the Reservation in Virginia.
Ethan’s work is led by intuition and takes inspiration from Pamunkey history and culture, Virginia’s flora and fauna, spirituality, and dreams. Tsenacommacah is Ethan’s first foray into exploring film as a medium.

Caleb Hendrickson is a scholar of religion working at the intersection of religion, art, and philosophy. He holds a master’s degree from Yale Divinity School and a PhD in religious studies from the University of Virginia. He has worked with journalists, filmmakers, and artists to create multimedia works concerning religion, visual culture, and American society. He is visiting professor of religion at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Federico Cuatacuat is an artist born in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. Cuatacuatl is based in Charottesville, Virginia and an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of Art.
Federico's work is invested in disseminating topics of Latinx immigration, social art practice, and cultural sustainability.

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