ONEIDA – The Oneida Indian Nation is fully financing a $10 million theatrical film about the alliance between the Oneidas and the American colonists during the Revolutionary War.
According to local sources, the independent production “First Allies” is expected to begin shooting in Central New York this fall.
Ray Halbritter, Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, says that he is looking for an avenue more effective than traditional storytelling to close what he sees as the gap between the Nation’s fewer than 1,000 members and a world with which it has had property disputes and other run-ins in the past.
The film is based on the book, “Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution” by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin. The book relates the history of Oneida Chief Han Yerry and the Oneida people working alongside American colonists, especially during the battle of Oriskany.
Halbritter will produce along with Hollywood producers Alex Sisken and Sid Ganis, former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.
Emmy-nominated director Kees Van Oostrum will oversee the filming of the project.
“In the past, we used American Indian runners to spread important messages,” Halbritter told Variety. “But in today’s world, film is the most powerful messaging medium of our mainstream culture. ‘First Allies’ provides the perfect opportunity to relay the story of the Oneida Indian Nation to audiences worldwide while also telling one of the lesser-known and most riveting stories about the founding of the United States of America.”