November 2, 2023

University to host premiere of Vietnam War documentary Nov. 15

Black-and-white photo of U.S. troops near two helicopters in Vietnam
Courtesy | Beverly Deepe Keever

Courtesy | Beverly Deepe Keever

The premiere of a documentary featuring a Santee Sioux Vietnam War veteran’s story will take place at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Andersen Hall auditorium at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The screening, sponsored by the University Libraries, is free and open to the public.

The 30-minute film, “One on the Thunder Trail: A Native Vietnam Veteran’s Story,” begins with Ron Thomas’ heartache at the banning of his Indian name in his boarding school. Upon joining the U.S. Army, he endured discrimination in Virginia and ambushes in South Vietnam, where he was wounded. Returning to the United States, he was bewildered by anti-war protesters, and, finally, received a welcome-home and cultural healing with his tribe.

Native filmmaker Brian R. Fimbres Jr., who produced and directed the film, will attend the premiere, along with benefactor Beverly Deepe Keever. Keever, a University of Nebraska alumna and correspondent during the Vietnam War, said she financially supported the documentary for several reasons: as a memorial to her husband, Charles Keever, who died in 2021 and was a veteran of the war; the approaching 50th anniversary of the war’s end; and the subtheme of Indigenous influences that she noticed while researching and writing her book, “Death Zones and Darling Spies.”

“This is basically his entire work; he has done a remarkable job,” Keever said. “I was particularly interested in the unique views of Native veterans … This is a hidden sub-theme in my book ‘Death Zones and Darling Spies’ and is carefully indexed that way, too.”

Keever and Fimbres hope to offer the documentary to nonprofit media to reach a wider audience.

Fimbres, based in Omaha, Nebraska, and Denver, Colorado, is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota. He has spent his career telling stories of Indigenous people. He predominantly works on documentary and current events coverage as a camera operator or director of photography. He has produced and directed interviews for the PBS series “American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil.” He also directed interviews for the documentary “Chief Standing Bear’s Journey to Statuary Hall.”

Keever worked as a correspondent during the Vietnam War and taught journalism at the University of Hawaii. She donated her papers to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Archives and Special Collections. The Beverly Deepe Keever papers is a special collection that documents her personal and professional life, with the largest section of material covering her time as a war correspondent. The collection also contains material from Keever’s childhood, education, activism, and journalistic and academic career before and after the Vietnam War era.