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Northern professor works on Emmy-winning film

Story by Stephanie J. Montoya

Northern’s own Dr. Matthew J. Martinez has helped bring a big honor to northern New Mexico through his work on Canes of Power, a cultural documentary that won an Emmy for best film in its category.

Martinez served as associate producer and director of research for the film, which tells the story of ornamental canes bestowed upon New Mexico’s 19 pueblos by Abraham Lincoln, and the sovereignty they represent.

“Part of what the film is about is bringing awareness to tribal history and sovereignty,” Martinez said. “Out of all the Indian tribes in the nation, only New Mexico’s Pueblos were recognized as sovereign in 1864 by President Lincoln.”

Martinez says that the pueblos still possess the ceremonial canes, which are passed on by tribal leaders annually as they transition to new leadership. However, few people know about the region’s unique connection to national history.

Canes of Power is one of more than 30 films made by Silver Bullet Productions, an educational non-profit Martinez has been a part of since 2007. According to their website, Silver Bullet’s mission is to “encourage educational achievement through a hands-on approach to film making projects that empower students.”

To see the trailer for Canes of Power or to purchase the DVD, visit

Matthew J. Martinez is Assistant Professor of Pueblo Indian Studies and Director of the Northern Pueblos Institute at Northern New Mexico College. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota and is a member of Ohkay Owingeh.

Photo by Stephanie J. Montoya