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 towards all people of color throughout Europe and western societies. 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. Please see director Red Haircrow’s article, published in January 2018 at CBC (Canadian Broadcast Channel): Native Hobbyism is Modern Day Colonialism. An invitation to submit perspective following his appearance in 2018’s, “Searching For Winnetou” documentary by First Nations playwright and author, Drew Hayden Taylor.
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, a great imbalance has continued. A situation of “Loving in the wrong way”. 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 such practices and 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 stereotyping, especially their effect on the young, and the misuse of Native identity and cultures. We want to help support and expand intercultural connections and correct the imbalances through accurate knowledge, lettings Natives represent and present themselves. We want Natives in North America to know and understand the depth of fetishization and exotification 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.
Germany is a microcosm of serious issues in western societies: of increasingly blatant racism, xenophobia, and ignorance through strategically omitted or white-washed history involving people of color. We’ll show this through the lives and stories of Native Americans in their own words and experiences. We feel our documentary can be a learning experience introducing or furthering the process of decolonization and intercultural respect by inspiring viewers to ask themselves and hopefully realize, how beliefs, attitudes and practices they believe harmless, are part of systemic or racism that continues to oppress and divide.
“It’s not about Winnetou. It’s about you and us.”
- A feature length documentary film appropriate for most ages utilizing live-action scenes, news and archival clips and short animated sequences.
- 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 and other people of color, stereotyping, cultural appropriation and/or racism.
- Exploration on 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 oppression and continuing genocide.
Photo by Viveka Frost. Graphics by Red Haircrow.