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H. Jane Nauman



 

 

CUSTER COUNTY— On December 31, 2015, H. Jane Nauman departed her beloved log cabin home in the Black Hills for her journey to the Spirit World.

H. Jane was born May 4, 1929, in Grinnell, Iowa, to Elbert Earl and Pauline Anna (Fagle) Keeney. She joins them, her older sister Ada Wilson, her niece Ann Wilson, and the ancestors in the Spirit World.

Survivors are her daughter Talli Nauman, who lives with her husband Dahl McLean in the Black Hills; son D. David Nauman, who lives in Wood River Valley, Idaho; former husband Charles Nauman, who lives in Volin, South Dakota; and oldest sister Katherine “Ka” Breckenridge, who lives with her husband Darl in Prescott, Arizona; as well as many other relatives and friends who knew and loved her.

One of the first generation in her family line to attend college, H. Jane earned a Fulbright Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1951. She took part in the Iowa Mountaineers’ Club, making a first ascent in the McKinley Range of Alaska.

She and her friend Joyce Rulon bicycled through Europe, where she remained to pursue advanced studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany in 1955.

She married Charles Nauman in 1956 and moved to the Black Hills where they launched an internationally recognized filmmaking business that was to be the first in the state of South Dakota. At Nauman Films and Sun Dog Films she took part in more than 100 independent motion pictures over more than 30 years, garnering many prestigious honors, including the 1988 Governor’s Award for Creative Achievement in the Arts.

Her seminal film accomplishment, “Lakota Quillwork – Art and Legend”, prompted her to nominate her leading actress, late Oglala Sioux tribal member Alice New Holy Blue Legs, for the nation’s highest award to a folk artist. When Alice became the first Lakota woman and South Dakotan named National Endowment for the Arts Outstanding Folk Artist in 1985, H. Jane expressed great satisfaction in helping secure that tribute.

“Lakota Quillwork — Art and Legend” (1985) is a 27-minute documentary in Lakota and English that helps  prevent the loss of porcupine quillwork by portraying contemporary quilling techniques and exploring the origins of the art, which relate to the sacred figure of Double Woman.

As part of the Nauman Films team, H. Jane initiated Native American and other film festivals. She produced and edited “Return to the River”, “Fare Thee West”, “Tahtonka”, “Sioux Legends”, “Johnny Vik”, and “They Are Coming to Norogachic”, among others.

These productions, based largely on the ethos of the Northern Great Plains, earned recognition, including the: Cine Golden Eagle Award, Martin Luther King Jr. Award, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon, American Indian Film Festival, Brussels International Film Festival, San Francisco International Festival, UCLA Film & Folklore Best Film on Folklore, Festival of American Folklife Ethnographic Film, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Native American Film + Video Festival.

As president of Sun Dog Films, H. Jane was location assistant for “Dances With Wolves” (1990), researcher on “Son of the Morning Star” (1991), assistant location manager for “Thunderheart” (1992), and research historian and set decoration coordinator on “Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee” (1995).

She retired from a second career at the U.S. Census Bureau as an octogenarian, after 31 years of commitment in which she labored to assure that previously under canvassed American Indians counted.

Her interest in ethnic diversity, beginning with her own French-German, Scotch-Irish and English ancestry, was reflected not only in her dedication to authenticity in her photography and film productions, but also in her overseas and domestic travels, her writings in more than 300 periodical publications, her prodigious gourmet international cooking, and her hosting of entertainment events — all forums in which she fortified cultural traditions.

While responding to economic demands to work in jobs ranging from waitressing to door-to-door sales, she pursued hunting deer and wildfowl; fishing and fly tying; gardening; and gathering mushrooms, asparagus, berries, breadroot, flowers, sage, herbs, and bittersweet.

A strong role model and indomitable character, she earned the nickname of Calamity Jane, in reference to the pioneer frontierswoman of the 1800s for whom the granite peak by her cabin was named.

Also a well-informed and frequent contributor to environmental justice causes, she embraced nature and the outdoors.  She shall be remembered for her frankness and positivity, her many endeavors, her independence and her generosity toward friends and family.

She chose Kirk Funeral Home and Cremation Services (www.kirkfuneralhome.com) for funerary arrangements. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be made to benefit the non-profits Compassion & Choices (www.compassionandchoices.org/what-you-can-do/donate/) or Dakota Rural Action Black Hills Chapter (www.dakotarural.org) West River Field Office, 518 6th Street, Suite 6, Rapid City, SD 57701.

A date will be selected for a celebration of H. Jane’s life.  She was fond of interpreting her outlook on life through a personalized version of “First Fig,” the 1918 signature verse of Edna St. Vincent Millay:

“I burn my candle at both ends;

 It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

 It gives a lovely light!”


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