Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum, said he’s been working on the idea of getting a popular film dubbed into Navajo for more than three years as a way to preserve the Navajo language.
“By preserving the Navajo language and encouraging Navajo youth to learn their language, wes will also be preserving Navajo culture,” Wheeler said.
He said when he approached Lucasfilm officials with the idea, he found that they were excited about the project.
“Since its inception, the Star Wars Saga has been experienced and shared all over the world. Its timeless themes of good versus evil have resonated with cultures far and wide. The movies have been translated across multiple languages and Lucasfilm Ltd. is proud to have Navajo as its most recent addition.”
Before and after shot of a man who attended Carlisle Indian boarding school. The destruction of an entire culture in one photo
I think the Original Poster’s heart is in the right place here but by saying that culture is only visual is reinforcing the stereotypes and appropriations that have been detrimental to Native representation (It is also dangerous to place culture at the site of the body). As Hebdige argues, Culture as an aesthetic value (or an image) is a product of the feudal or dominant hierarchy. I would agree with his second definition of culture (via Raymond Williams) that culture is “the relationships between elements in a whole way of life,” and the visual and physical aesthetics would be only one of those elements. This is important because it changes the idea of culture from immutable to historicized “from fixity to transformation(See from Subculture: The Meaning of Style).”
It was part of his culture not his “entire” culture which was denied, and then not entirely erased. Native Culture is not only in our dress and while most of the Boarding Schools were horrendous (though some ran by tribes were quite progressive) within them we found multi-cultural spaces-via this meeting of tribal cultures in some ways the schools inadvertently laid the foundation for the pan-tribal movements that would occur later in the century. The success of Native Culture has been that it can survive, and has survived all forms of attempted genocide. As someone who has studied Native images they do and can lie-resistance is something that cannot be quantified in or as an image.
NPR reports that South Dakota removes hundreds of Native American children every year. Dona Lone Hill writes for us about her brother Wakiya:
I have a brother.
His name is, or was, Wakiya. Wakiya means Thunder in our language. The reason I say this “was” his name is because his name may have been changed. We don’t know this because none of us has ever met Wakiya.
He was taken from his mother in 1991 by the state of South Dakota.
I have always been curious about Wakiya, never really knowing if he was for certain my brother. I never asked, just heard something about him in passing when I was younger. I think I may have been scared to ask, or find out what happened to him.
Finally, one day, I read of the NPR investigation about how so many of the Native American children in South Dakota were being taken from their families, and never given back. So much so, that it was compared to when Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes back in the post-reservation days and sent to boarding schools where the motto was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”
The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 states that, except in the rarest circumstances, Native American children must be placed with their relatives or tribes. It also says states must do everything they can to keep native families together. The six-part investigation also noted that although Native American children only make up 15% of the children in the state of South Dakota, they make up more than 50% of the children in foster care. Many of the Native American children in foster care are lost to their families forever, as they are placed outside their tribe and eventually lose their culture.
After reading this, I thought more about Wakiya and wondered where he was. I looked for him on Facebook, but that was a dead end. I am sure his name was changed. I knew nothing of him except his first name. So I did a search on his mother and found her living in the same city as I am. When I first contacted her, I made small talk, trying to build up courage to ask if she was the mother to my brother. Then, she must have known.
She told me about Wakiya. How he was taken by the state, when she was battling her demons of addiction. She was now clean, and sober for over two years. She, too, wanted to look for him, but her rights had been terminated, so she had no clue how to even start. Then, she asked if I wanted to see pictures of him.
[read the rest here]
Photograph: The first image Dana Lone Hill saw of her brother Wakiya, who, aged 8, was removed from his mother by the state of South Dakota
The Occupy movement is known internationally for protesting the inequalities of the global financial system, so much so that in four short months, “Occupy” has essentially become a brand known the world over.
But now there’s an effort by Native American activists in Oakland to get rid of “Occupy” and replace it with “Decolonize” - as in “Decolonize Oakland.” They say the term “occupy” is offensive in light of the brutal history of occupation by early colonizers and the United States government. Native Americans in Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland and Sedona have launched similar campaigns.
The name change is proving contentious at Occupy Oakland, with some protesters accusing Native Americans of guilt tripping in the name of supporting the oppressed. But cut through the chatter, and the basic point seems to be this: Occupy doesn’t want to give up the brand.
“That name change could … alienate Oakland from the wider movement,” wrote John C Osborne, who has been reporting on the Occupy movement on his blog the Classist. “The brand recognition if you will.”
The irony of Occupy Oakland being captivated by “branding” isn’t lost on Morning Star Gali, a Native American activist from Oakland who’s helping lead the name change effort. The Occupy movement, in general, shuns thecorporatization of society.
More to the point, Gali says that for many Native Americans, especially those who came up in the “Red Power” movement in the 1960s, the term “Occupy” has a lot of baggage.
Native Americans tribes were brutally “occupied” by Spanish and English colonizers. Later, the United States government waged war on the Native American tribes and forced them into camps or reservations. More than 90 percent of North America’s indigenous population was wiped out by “occupiers,” either through war or the spread of disease.
And Bay Area Native American activists believe the occupation continues. In California, many Bay Area tribes are still struggling to gain federal recognition as sovereign nations. In the absence of a treaty, or compensation for their land, Native American activists in the Bay Area say they continue to live under outside rule.
As a Native American, “it’s nauseating to hear the word ‘occupy’ over and over again.’” Gali said. ”We need to occupy this, we need to occupy that. It’s the modern day colonial language.”
Done. Your property now belongs to a Native American.
Just give me the time and place for me to come pick it up. Tuesdays and Thursdays aren’t good for me. And hopefully you have a truck.
I suggest a powerful antidote to the manufactured past now being created for us in the secret history of Indians in the 20th century. Geronimo really did have a Cadillac and used to drive it to church where he’d sign autographs. Quannah Parker, the legendary leader of the Comanches, became a successful businessman after the war. He was part owner of a railroad, and endorsed farming and Jesus…One of the most instructive lives is that of Black Elk, one of our greatest heroes and most revered spiritual leaders. His astonishing life included a stint in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and surviving the Wounded Knee massacre…
I found it fascinating that despite hearing about Black Elk for many years, I had no idea he spent most of his life as a catholic…I also learned he had a first name, and that it was Nick.
I believe all of our lives are just as crazy as Nick’s. And when we refuse to acknowledge this, and pretend that it’s otherwise, to pretend we are real Indians, instead of real human beings, to please an antique notion of European romanticism, we may think we’re acting tough but instead we’re selling out.