Forget Winnetou! is a documentary film project by Red Haircrow and Timo Kiesel on stereotypes and racism against Native Americans in Germany. 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, racism & colonialism.
While recognizing many Germans were first introduced to “natives” through May’s stories, developing a lifelong love of the characters and settings, in combination with those stereotypical, fantasized works and the amount of 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 a contemporary society heavily damaged by those continuing practices and privileged attitudes, but just saying so, even repeatedly isn’t enough to prompt change.
We want Germany and the world to understand the very real effects of dismissive attitudes towards native stereotyping, especially on the young, and the misuse of native identity and cultures. We want to help support and expand intercultural interconnections, correct the imbalances through accurate knowledge and let natives represent and present themselves.
We’ll show this through the lives and stories of Native Americans in their own words; through their presentation of their experiences, their histories and their cultures, as a means to hopefully inspire positive change in German society. We feel our documentary can be a learning experience introducing or furthering the process of decolonization of those willing to be reeducated and go beyond native stereotypes for all peoples benefits.
“Just because it’s fiction, doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Reeducating the resistant.”
What we plan:
- A 60-90 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, 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. If we reach more than our fundraising goals, we will develop educational materials to accompany the documentary and facilitate workshops.