This May Be The Last Time

This May Be the Last Time
2013, 90 min.
United States, Documentary
Director: Sterlin Harjo (Seminole, Creek)

In 1962, filmmaker Sterlin Harjo’s grandfather disappeared in Sasakwa, Oklahoma. As the Seminole and Creek community searched for him, its members sang their traditional ancient hymns of faith and hope. Harjo’s first feature-length documentary, This May Be the Last Time explores the disappearance of his grandfather and the origins of these songs. Interviewing community members, religious leaders and a musical historian, Harjo traces the creation of the their hymns, and their roots in Native, Scots-Irish, and African American musical traditions. The film shows that the hymns have been a source of support during times of duress, including the brutal Trail of Tears when the people were forcibly removed from their Southeast homelands to Indian Territory, well into the present. Harjo mostly interviews elders, with gentle rapport, but these scenes are also a poignant reminder that, if traditional hymn-singing is to continue, a younger generation must take it on.

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