Warriorettes champions on field and on film

TUBA CITY, Arizona — When the Tuba City High School girls cross country team won their fourth straight championship on November 4, 2000, it was the culmination of a unique season.

The Warriorettes have been filmed every step of the way to the championship by Corbis Documentary Co, a New York-based production company.

John Goheen, producer-director of the production, said the outcome couldn’t have been better with Tuba City winning the state title.

Goheen said the documentary, which he hopes will become a feature film, is about much more than cross country, addressing lifestyle, people and relationships on reservations.

Goheen emphasized that the documentary is not only about the seven who ran on the championship day, but the 22 members who were part of the team.

“I wanted to show these teenagers are like teenagers in any small town. They’re just trying to grow up. Their problems are much like those of kids in inner cities,” he said.

The Tuba City girls cross country team agreed to be filmed for the documentary after Goheen explained that he hopes to dispel the stereotypes about Native American teenagers through his documentary.

Still, Goheen said it took awhile before the Tuba City folks opened up to him — a 45-year-old guy from Colorado. “After awhile they became oblivious to me. The runners... were uncomfortable at the start but by November 4, I blended in,” he said.

Coach Milfred Tewawina said the constant filming for the documentary was distracting, but that the girls handled it well, rising above the added pressure.

Since John and his wife Joni were concerned about any cultural problems that they might cause, interviewing so many kids and their families, they hired Hopi film producer Patty Talahongva, who helped them explore the culture of the Navajos and Hopis on the Tuba City team.

The film crew also covered the Hopi run from Polacca to Moenkopi, sponsored by Black Mesa Trust, and a baby-naming ceremony, including piki making, in Second Mesa.

“This film will appeal to runners, people interested in culture — and research,” said Joni Goheen.

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