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