Pioneer Days: Fire in the Valley
Pioneer Days: Fire in the Valley tells the story of the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois, during the American Revolution, their triumphs and tragedies and their present day commitment to preserve their identity.
Greg Hitchcock Produces Documentary about Iroquois in the Mohawk Valley
Gloversville, July 4, 2021 – Army veteran Greg Hitchcock of Gloversville, NY produced a documentary portraying the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois (Six Nations) Indians, that lived in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York before and during the time of the American Revolution.
Funded in part by a $1,000 Steve McKee Foundation microgrant awarded by the Center for Law and Justice and the New York State Writers Institute, (in collaboration with WMHT, the Times Union, the Justice Center of Rensselaer County, All Of Us, Youth FX, Amnesty International USA, and other community partners), the project’s goal is to raise awareness and examine the impact of systemic racism on Capital Region communities.
Through a series of events last fall, The Time for Reckoning: Confronting Systemic Racism, Seeking Justice and Reimagining Society created a collaborative space for community organizers, public officials, and nationally known experts to discuss and debate social issues, find common ground, and learn new ways to work collectively to create a more just society. More information and links to several of these microgrant projects can be found at https://www.timeforreckoning.org.
The idea behind the documentary, entitled Pioneer Days: Fire in the Valley, was inspired by the history that took place in the Mohawk Valley during the Colonial and Revolutionary period.
“Native history has often been overlooked or overshadowed by big battles like Saratoga and Yorktown when we discuss our Revolutionary past,” Hitchcock said.
“I wished to highlight the many benefits that the Iroquois gave to our nation including the inspiration for the colonies to join together in their fight with Britain and the inspiration that the Six Nation Confederacy had on the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
The film also depicts how the Mohawks and other tribes have preserved their language and identity through education. The Iroquois were robbed of their lands through gradual dispossession by encroaching squatters throughout the colonial and post-Revolutionary period, Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock wrote the script by researching the period and gathered a film team to produce the 25-minute documentary with Anita Akerkar, a professional voice-over who provided narration and camera crew operators Gary McCarey and Diane Easton that took them on a four-month journey from Johnstown and Schenectady to Fort Stanwix and Mohawk Tribal Land at Akwesasne.
The biggest lesson he learned from producing and editing the film is that the Iroquois, even though they were treated unfairly, are still with us and continue to contribute to our modern American life.
“Environmentalism, self-government, and women’s rights have been influential Haudenosaunee themes,” he said.
After serving honorably in the U.S. Army, Hitchcock graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, minoring in Political Science, from the State University of New York at Albany in 1992. Since then, he has been a full-time reporter and freelance writer for newspapers, journals, and magazines. His recent work has been published by Adirondac, the magazine of the Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Explorer, and other business publications.
His film credits include Climate Change: The Adirondacks, produced for the United Nations, The Story of the Rice Homestead, produced for the Mayfield Historical Society, and other documentaries.