I’m Not the Indian You Had in Mind by Thomas King is a spoken word short featuring the author and two Indigenous actors. The actors are dressed as any North American does in the 21st century. This is contrasted with old “cowboy and Indian” western movie scenes playing in the background. Shots of the stereotypical Indigenous person riding horses or shooting bows and arrows emphasizes the disparity between real Indigenous people and their stereotyped big screen counterparts. The props used, like the cigar store Indian, add to that message, that the Indian you have in mind, is not a real person.
Sherman Alexie Interview on NPR about his recent memoir of growing up on reserve. The interview also includes a reading of a chapter. Sherman Alexie is often seen as the voice of the Native American. His writing is funny, heartbreaking, honest and accessible for students. His book “The Absolutely True Diary of Part Time Indian” is a favourite among students, and has also landed on several banned book lists for its raw language and sexuality. I always recommend this book in spite of some people (mostly parents) who are uncomfortable with the topics included in the novel. It is a realistic portrayal of how 14 year old boys think and talk to each other. Because of the popularity of the novel Sherman Alexie is often go to voice of Native writers. He responded to this by saying
“I really hope that like 10 or 12 Native writers, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, really launch into the national consciousness …” he says. “So I don’t have to answer all the questions, so I don’t have to get invited to all the conferences. Share the burden of being a public figure Indian! Come on, people! Hurry up, finish your books!
The following links are to documentaries created by Indigenous women. These are excellent examples of Indigenous women using technology and art to express and consider cultural issues.
In “Headdress” a young woman, JJ Neepin, recreates a portrait of her grandfather. JJ Neepin and her photographer, Nadya Kwandibens, discuss the significance of the headdress. The cultural appropriation of headdresses has been debated lately has celebrities and concert goers have been spotted wearing them at outdoor festivals, the debate also surfaces as Halloween approaches. As she puts the headdress on Neepin says she can feel the weight-physically and metaphorically. This is a short doc (under 6 minutes) that would be a great way to start a conversation about cultural appropriation of the headdress.
Four Faces of the Moon
“Four Faces of the Moon” is an animated short film by filmmaker Amanda Strong. The character travels through time to witness history and colonization of Indigenous people. The film centres around the decimation of the buffalo as a means to terminate the Indigenous people that depended on them for survival. I want to focus my research on Indigenous women and their involvement in STEAM. This film is a great example of a woman involved in the creative and technical side of filmmaking.
The Oak Legacy
“The Oka Legacy” is a documentary about Oka crisis in the 90s and focuses on the role women played in the protests and the impact it had on young aboriginal girls, some of whom went on to be leaders in Idle No More. I was a child during the Oka Crisis and remember hearing bits about it, but did not ever really understand what is meant. Watching it now I was shocked. The tensions between the Mohawk and the town didn’t shock me, but the violence did. This would be an interesting film to watch with students now and compare and contrast what they see with current issues and protests in Canada and the United States.