What to My Wondering Eyes Should Appear, but a Miniature Sleigh,
and Eight Tiny…Bison?
"The Native American Night Before Christmas"
A 5-minute film
by Carole Levine
He goes by many names–Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and now, Redshirt. The mythical man who bestows gifts to children and the needy is timeless and cherished in European countries. But like any folk tale worth sharing, the legend enjoys adaptations unique to the cultures it serves.
Clement Moore’s classic A Visit from St. Nicholas has taken on a decidedly indigenous flavor in Gary Robinson’s new video storybook, A Native American Night Before Christmas. The partially animated short film, produced by Robinson’s Tribal Eye Productions, follows the story of Redshirt, a Native Santa on his Christmas Eve journey. The vivid illustrations by Jesse Hummingbird show a whimsical Redshirt who instead of the familiar red cap sports a pippin’ headdress and has traded in Santa’s reindeer for bison.
A Choctaw/ Cherokee, Robinson’s latest effort earned him a nomination for Best Animation Short at the 2006 American Indian Film Festival. Although A Native American Night Before Christmas didn’t take home the top honors, it did receive the most enthusiastic audience response of films shown. Tall praise for this video considering it was competing against fully animated productions.
With more than 20 years experience as an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Robinson is clearly pleased with the interest in his adapted tale and hopes to build off the success of his first children’s production. Next in line? …How the Indian Santa Claus came to be.