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There’s been a French presence in what is today the southern American Midwest near the Mississippi River since 1673. Naming their colony ‘the Illinois Country’ for the native Illiniwek tribes who inhabited it, these first French settlers traded with, preached Catholicism to, and intermarried with local Indigenous communities, resulting in a distinct French Creole heritage and dialect that still reverberates, albeit faintly, in the region today. In this short, the Missouri-born artist Brian Hawkins pairs stunning animation built from watercolours with audio of one of the last native speakers of Illinois Country French recounting a whimsical local folktale that’s been nearly lost to time. Unfolding like a beautiful picture book sprung to life, Hawkins’s work is at once a wondrous act of creativity and of cultural preservation.
Director: Brian Hawkins
Narrator: Pierre Aloysius Boyer
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