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Okla. actress always puts family first

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2807:okl a-actress-always-puts-family-first&catid=49&Itemid=25 Okla. actress always puts
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2009
      http://nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2807:okl
      a-actress-always-puts-family-first&catid=49&Itemid=25

      Okla. actress always puts family first

      Written by Christina Good Voice, Native Times Correspondent
      Monday, 28 December 2009 10:35

      TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Casey Camp-Horinek can sum herself up in five words:
      wise, mother, grandmother, traditionalist and environmentalist. The
      61-year-old Ponca woman credits these attributes for the woman she is today,
      who is a long-time Native rights activist.

      Camp-Horinek is also a Native American actress, and although she has
      embraced the opportunity to share her talents, she also utilizes the trade
      to set the record straight about Indians.

      "Among all of those components, part of being a traditionalist is my
      spiritual self," Camp-Horinek said. "I feel like a lot of times when you
      pray for guidance you receive it in the most odd ways."

      The guidance she received led her into acting.

      "I was able to work from my own home and not be away from my family very
      much while also being able to contribute to the changing image of Native
      America," Camp-Horinek said. "Many people still see us very
      one-dimensionally."

      Camp-Horinek gets her traditionalist roots from her parents and
      grandparents. She has lived in and around Ponca City, Okla., as well as
      other areas around the country, but has lived in Ponca country for the last
      40 years with her husband, Michael Horinek, who is from Newkirk, Okla.

      Camp-Horinek is a proud mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all in
      one, and she credits all of them for contributing to molding her into the
      strong Native woman she sees in the mirror each day.

      Camp-Horinek and her husband have four adult children: Julie, Mekasi,
      Suzaatah and Jeff.

      "My first mission was being a good companion and to raise capable children,"
      Camp-Horinek said. "They were raised in a traditional way of life and are
      wonderful parenting children.

      "They all raised their children in a good manner, they all lead lives of
      sobriety.that means a lot to me. It means I've done my job."

      Camp-Horinek said the traditional red woman puts her family first and Nation
      next.

      "Because we're raising children and grandchildren to be part of that
      Nation," she said. "We have to be leaders in our own family before we can
      expand out into helping in the general society."

      Another form of leadership Camp-Horinek's tackled is as a Native actress.

      Camp-Horinek's acting roots began in Tulsa when she was a member of the
      American Indian Theater Company, and she even got her sons involved by
      urging them to audition for parts in the company's production of "Black Elk
      Speaks."

      While she and her two sons landed small roles in the production, non-Indian
      actor David Carradine played the role of Black Elk. It was then that
      Camp-Horinek had an epiphany. She realized how underrepresented Native
      Americans were in the theater and movies, even in productions about their
      own people. And further more, she realized that avenue could be a medium for
      activism.

      "It was a light bulb moment," she said. "There were hundreds of people
      seeing "Black Elk Speaks" at the PAC (Performing Arts Center,)" she said. "I
      was seeing these people impacted by entertainment and getting it - our
      holocaust. I thought, 'Oh my goodness, this was a remarkable tool for
      educating the public."

      Now, Native actors still only make up a sliver of a racial statistic pie
      graph compared to Caucasians, Hispanics, blacks and Asians, but they're out
      there, she said.

      "The struggles that people have gone through over the past 20 years to teach
      non-Natives that we are multidimensional, that's paying off," Camp-Horinek
      said. "We're getting lead roles, but believe me, it isn't enough if you look
      at the entire movie, TV and video industry. They show you the slices of the
      pie.Native Americans are a hairline."

      Now, years later after the veterans of theater and the movie industry like
      Will Sampson, Graham Greene, Wes Studi and Camp-Horinek paved the way, young
      Native actors are landing key roles in large productions such as the wildly
      popular Twilight Saga and primetime TV dramas.

      Camp-Horinek's been an actress for more than 25 years, with titles including
      "Lakota Moon," "Geronimo," "Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee" and
      "DreamKeeper" under her belt. She also appeared in "Goodnight Irene" and
      "Share the Wealth" and was one of the leads in the 2009 movie "Barking
      Water." Her performance in "Barking Water" earned her the Best Actress award
      at the 2009 American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.

      Camp-Horinek insists that her acting career just tells a small story of who
      she is.

      "It's only a fraction of me," she said. "I definitely consider myself an
      actress, and it's something I feel is important to change the portrayal of
      Native Americans.

      "I've worked hard to portray Native women in their true life. I'm proud of
      the ability to do that. I do understand that acting is hard work and an art.
      Technically I'm not the first, and I thank God I'm not the last."
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