In 2014, Ken Zoll, Executive Director of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, received a phone call from London. The caller was Bernard MacMahon, director of a project for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Public Broadcasting System (PBS) station WNET, Washington, D.C. Bernard had seen an article on the Internet describing a 1956 film preserved by the Center and the Hopi Tribe. The film was restored with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation. The film, not seen in over 50 years, was of the Billingsley Hopi Dancers who were being considered for inclusion in a BBC/PBS series. The project is entitled American Epic. The series premiers on Tuesday, May 16, 23 and 30 on Public television stations across the country. The final episode on May 30 includes the story of the Hopi Billingsley dancers with film footage provided by the Verde Valley Archaeology Center.
Ken, a presenter for the AZ Speaks Program of Arizona Humanities, will present his Arizona Humanities lecture on the attempts to wipe out Native American dancing and the roll that the Billingsley Hopi Dancers played in the effort to retain their religious freedom. He will also describe the Center’s work with the BBC and show a 20-minute segment of the original 54-minute film on May 31, at 6:30 pm at the Cliff Castle Casino Lodge, 333 Middle Verde Road in Camp Verde. The talk is free and open to the public. Later this summer, the Center will schedule the showing of the entire restored film, a requirement of the National Film Preservation Foundation for receipt of the grant.