“Threatened by Beads” and “The Color of Your Skin”, two of my poems in Red Ink: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, on the topic of Native Americans, racism, colorism and prejudice. Pick up a copy, as there are many great artists and writers yet again in the Winter 2016 edition. Just got my contributor’s copy this week!
On June 2nd, I’ll give a presentation at the “Indigenous Popular Culture Conference” at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. The conference is titled; “A Long Time Ago on a Reservation Far, Far Away: Contemporary Indigenous Popular Culture across the Globe.”
MY ABSTRACT: “While many people express growing boredom with Hollywood and other western film studios producing sub-standard, unoriginal movies or rebooting television series or films of the past, the Native indie film industry is booming. Despite the low ebb of unique productions to which even Hollywood admits, scripts by people of color, including Natives, continue to be rejected and ignored primarily because they don’t fit the stereotypical material usually churned out about them by others.
Thus, more Native filmmakers today than ever before are writing, filming and sharing their own work, by Natives for everyone, representing and presenting themselves and their stories, whether fiction or non-fiction. More Native artists and filmmakers are collaborating and coming together in events, such as the Indigenous Comic-Con whose inaugural celebration took place in November 2016, to encourage and promote each other. It is also open to the public, and all are welcome.
Discussion will include why films about Natives made by Natives so important; what the issues and benefits are both for Native individuals, nations and communities, and non-Natives; and the intersectionality of native films with social justice, activism and sovereignty. Material will include visual examples of contemporary native films, filmmakers, production companies and organizations, such as A Tribe Called Geek that report on, encourage and promote contemporary artists and filmmakers.”
More details about the event, here.
This land does not belong to us. It is not ours. We don’t know the stories here. Our ignorant bliss offends and desecrates. We remain an enemy to all life. This is a hard understanding because it asks us to stop and consider how blindly we walk on stolen land that is not ours. We […]
Around three years ago, I first heard through a mutual acquaintance, that a German guy named Timo Kiesel was interested in doing a film project about Native stereotypes. While not skeptical, though knowing nothing about him (and the mutual friend wouldn’t have passed the message along if he was sketchy), Timo’s motivation and aim was my concern. Understanding the issues? Honesty? Trustworthiness?
Since I’ve been in Germany, my work is out there such as in ICTMN or my website, and I’d been contacted before by German studios or individuals seeking “authenticity” for their productions, but almost all of which turned out to be deliberately ignorant because they rejected historical accuracy (even in documentaries) in favor of stereotypical Indians and stories that were “fun for German audiences” but misrepresentative or are outright offensive in content. One example? In 2013, “The White Comanche” (very loosely interpreted to tabloid level) documentary (originally titled “The White Squaw”, I’m dead serious), I was asked to be a consultant under contract.
Very enthusiastically, the representative assured me the writers and producers wanted to be accurate, such as having natives play natives, and I began working for those aims. Yet as the days passed, the contract never came, the script and story became more eccentric and misrepresentative of known facts, and the rep finally admitted they had been contacted by hobbyists or clubs which acts as “Indians” willing to work and provide equipment and a setting just to be in the production. I was never paid for the work I’d done, they still owe me, and the production itself ended up being horrendously demeaning to the Comanche people. I’m looking at you Bilderfest.
So, I was deeply wary of anyone seeking me out for consulting on a documentary anymore. I told our mutual friend to have Timo contact me directly, no intermediaries, but due to schedules or whatever, I didn’t hear from him again for nearly a year. During the time, working as I still did in a small local restaurant to support myself, doing supplementary workshops on native themes, going to university full-time and as a single parent of a special needs teen, I had little time anyway. Through 2014, separately, we continued our research, gathering experiences and observations, even filming material for the eventual product. I continued writing on the themes, and expanding my knowledge, contacts and awareness through native organizations, communities, relatives and friends, and Timo did the same in his own networks and contacts throughout Europe, while working as a trainer and consultant at the anti-racism organization, glokal e.V.
In February 2015, we met for the first time and had a productive conversation. The proverbial wheels were set in motion, plans were laid and built upon, yet as ever, life had unexpected twists and turns. Continue reading