The Project

by louise watson 30 sept 2017
Forget Winnetou! is a documentary film project directed by Red Haircrow, on stereotypes of Native Americans in Germany, and how it is connected to wider issues  of stereotyping, racial profiling and inequality. We understand Winnetou, the fictional “Indian” character created by Karl May, who many Germans see as harmless and inspiring, can be a symbolic character/story reinforcing Native American stereotypes, and racism & colonialism in general.

While recognizing many Germans were first introduced to “natives” through May’s stories, developing a lifelong love of the characters, in combination with misinformation and Eurocentric or one-dimensional material in German society about Natives, a great imbalance has continued. For generations it has reinforced the attitude that Europeans can take whatever and whoever they want, even living peoples, and misinterpret and use them for self-gratification. We live in societies heavily damaged by those continuing practices and privileged attitudes.

“What does a world that respects Indigenous peoples look like, that’s working towards ending racism, colonialism, and other intersecting oppression on a global scale?” (Marcos, 2017).

We are asking Germany and the world to understand the very real effects of dismissive attitudes towards native stereotyping, especially their effect on the young, and the misuse of native identity and cultures. We want to help support and expand intercultural connections, correct the imbalances through accurate knowledge and let natives represent and present themselves. We want Natives in North America to know and understand the depth of fetishization and exotifying that occurs, although not always intentional, results in further objectification, dehumanization and erasure at the heart of so many issues, from daily discrimination to repatriation denials.

We’ll show this through the lives and stories of Native Americans in their own words; through the presentation of their experiences, their histories and their cultures, as a means to hopefully inspire positive change. We feel our documentary can be a learning experience introducing or furthering the process of decolonization, and by inspiring viewers to ask themselves and hopefully realize, how beliefs, attitudes and practices they believe harmless, are actually part of systemic privileged practices that continue to oppress and divide.

View trailer. Deutsch site.

“Just because it’s fiction, doesn’t mean it’s harmless.”

What we plan:

  • A 70-90 minute full-length documentary film appropriate for most ages.
  • The main focus will be on conversations with natives living in Germany, how stereotypes have and continue to affect them, plus presentations of accurate imagery and knowledge of natives from native perspective.
  • Interviews with Natives: scholars, artists and more, as well as people who deal critically with the German perception of and attitude towards Native Americans, stereotyping, cultural appropriation and/or racism.
  • Connections in the topics of stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and both alt-right and far-left racism with a critical historical retrospective on Native American history as well as German “Indianthusiasm”.
  • Exploration in how to unlearn harmful practices and decolonize, the importance of Native self-determination, presentation and control of their cultures and peoples as a means of necessary healing after centuries of genocide, followed by dehumanization and objectification.