Perspectives

 

What we believe in:

  1. The prevalent image of Native Americans in Germany is based on misinformation and idealisation. It is therefore stereotypical and racist, as it objectifies and reduces Natives to an rigid image or mascot.
  2. Author Karl May (1842-1912) with his best know character Winnetou and more than 200 million sold copies of his books plays a major role in the perception of Native Americans in Germany.
  3. We consider practices of dressing up as Natives – be it in kindergardens, for carnival, in hobbyist groups or in theme parks – as cultural appropriation and therefore could be considered a strategy to maintain the system of white supremacy.
  4. The brutal colonial history and European genocide against the Indigenous People of the Americas is mostly neglected and trivalised. The role of Germans as perpetrators in this history is quasi non-existent.
  5. In German imagination, Native Americans are quite continously placed in the past. Contemporary Native life is either ignored or reduced to stereotypes such as the “drunken Native”, “Docile Maiden” or “Wise Medicine Man”.
  6. The idealisation of Native Americans and the strong need of many Germans of identification and incarnation fulfils a psychological function. It’s not a coincidence that Germany, as a genocide perpetrating society, identifies with Native Americans as victims and last survivors of genocide.
  7. There is a tradition of right-wing and openly racist people in Germany to adore and identify with Native Americans. Not only Hitler was a dedicated fan of Winnetou. Many of the 100,000 hobbyists in Germany (people who are organised in so called “Native clubs” and spend a lot of their free time disguised as Natives), and share racist views about minorities in Germany and are positioned on the right edge of German society. However, the problematic enthusiasm and identification with Natives is also widely found in leftist and spiritual scenes.
  8. All of these facts have massive effects on Native Americans living in or visiting Germany. While some Natives feel honoured and freed to receive a very different treatment from white people than in the US. Natives living or being born and raised in Germany realise quickly, that the German fascination of Natives is not about them personally, but rather to satisfy German fantasies.
  9. We live in an colonial present and need to decolonise. Advertisement and education, films, music art and museums have to be decolonised. Even the solidarity movement (e.g. with Standing Rock) is not free of racist, idealistic and paternalistic ideas, behaviour and has to be decolonised. The decolonisation of the mind has to take place on both sides: the colonizer and the colonized. Each side has a different path to decolonization, but the same goal.
  10. We see a need for more anti-racist education in general and concerning anti-Native racism in particular, so that natives are not homogenized, dehumanized or minimized into convenient stereotypes, which are harmful, especially to the young. The German public should be sensitized on the violence that originates from its attitude towards Native Americans. Spaces are needed to explore how a decolonized contact that acknowledges historic trauma and contemporary racism could look like.