There continues to be a lot of misinformation being shared about what “Two-Spirit” means, and Natives saying “No” are ignored just like when we say, stop cultural appropriation and misuse. Here’s the fact: if you are not Native/Indigenous, you are cannot be a Two-Spirit person and you should not be using the term to describe yourself or anyone else. It was a term created by Natives for Natives, and most Native nations and peoples have their terms in their languages also. The Dinéh (Navaho) refer to them as nàdleehé or ‘one who is ‘transformed’, the Lakota (Sioux) as winkte, the Mohave as alyha, the Zuni as lhamana, the Omaha as mexoga, the Aleut and Kodiak as achnucek, the Zapotec as ira’ muxe, etc.
My original post on the topic at redhaircrow.com was way back in 2010, “Two-Spirit-Tradition, History & Future”, so I wanted to do an updated version because my knowledge expanded also, from the wisdom of Native/Indigenous scholars, elders and elders-to-be. This is information I share and include in some workshops or presentations if applicable, or if someone asks about the term and its usage. Please recall all information on this and my personal website are our intellectual property, and require a written request for permission to reprint or use.
Recently, I shared links to the free manuscript proof of forthcoming, “Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Communities”, which I worked on with others this past summer for (NASEM), National Sciences Engineering Medicines Academies. It was almost totally ignored even by those who say they want to learn more about Natives. It’s a collection of firsthand information, data and knowledge from some of the hard-working Natives today, elders, academicians, psychologists, doctors. One of the greatest sections was on Two-Spirit people from Sadie Heart of the Hawk Ali, their presentation “Being Two-Spirit” can be downloaded from this online source.
Sadie sharing important knowledge, “Two-Spirit people are not only trans-identified, gender or sexually variant, gender queer, asexual or other terms. We are all of those and none of those because Two-Spirit is a **spiritual term** that reflects back on the roles our Two-Spirit ancestors used to have in relation to their Nations. Natives who identify as Two-Spirit know we have a responsibility to our Nations, to learn our languages, to keep our ceremonies and protect our children. This was the main work of Two-Spirit people prior to colonization.
Two-Spirit people understand the roles Two-Spirit ancestors had, and how when a child was born into a nation and there was evidence this child had an affinity for work that didn’t align with the gender they were identified with at birth, there was a celebration. There was a big celebration and a feast, it was not the negative response seen in parents today, that they will now never have grandchildren. In fact, if something happened to the parents of a child, the child was given to the Two-Spirit people to raise because rather than reducing that person to someone with a male and female spirit living in one body, there was a spiritual aspect as well. Many Native nations believe Two-Spirit people have one foot in the spirit world and one in the physical, being able to see things that others cannot. Two-Spirit people were considered sacred.
Contrary to stereotypes and pop culture, all Native people are not people of medicine, pipe carriers, lodge keepers and sun dancers, and medicine is more than sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar and corn pollen. Today, Two-Spirit people are engaged in the work of our Two-Spirit ancestors working in medicine, in the arts, in psychology, in law, and other fields that lift our people up. Many are in behavioral health fields, and this is not a coincidence. Not all have completed their “coming-in” processes, but Two-Spirit people are around, they are in your communities trying to recreate the ways of our ancestors in every field.”
Reality: Even for Native/Indigenous persons, just because they are LGBTIIQ, non-binary etc. it doesn’t automatically make them Two-Spirit. Native/Indigenous LGBTIIQ people can BECOME Two-Spirits, but it is not an automatic thing. Indigenous people from other continents and places ALSO had their terms and words for such persons, which they should be using also. For example, in Pasifika, Mahu (Hawai’i and Tahiti), Vaka sa lewa lewa (Fiji), Palopa (Papua New Guinea), Fa’afafine (Samoa), Akava’ine (Rarotonga).
Solutions: If you are “white”, European, etc. research your peoples culture and history and find the original terms for persons like yourself, or work together with your people or “adopted” peers to create a term for yourselves. Stop appropriating and misusing Native/Indigenous terms, cultures and traditions. Why does this keep needing to be said? Why are the collective voices of Native peoples being ignored? The answers to those questions goes straight back to Eurocentrism, privilege and learned behaviors that excuse ignoring someone’s “No”, for one’s own gratification, even if its violating their rights, dignity and life. That’s why we say symbolically to #ForgetWinnetou, which helped spread that practice against Native peoples.
Description: “We live in societies designed to crush our bodies and spirits, that seek to compartmentalize and confine us in every way, especially into heteronormative roles and bodies although gender, sexuality, even intelligence are naturally on a spectrum.
Variance, the state of being varied, is often seen as negative. Yet skills such as adaptability and variability helped our ancestors survive, and today are essential in gaining and maintaining balance, well-being and mindfulness. Being trans and/or also part of other minoritized or marginalized groups adds extras challenges for being accepted as who you are, of just living your life, of feeling safe in society, in your home, in your body.”
Order now to screen our award-winning documentary on the origin and effects of Native American stereotypes, just in time for November, which is Native American Heritage month. It is a documentary intended for audiences 12 and older, and has screened to positive reception at universities, gymnasiums, organizations and groups who are interested in helping create a better world and future for all peoples.
Our film focuses on how the same mentality that ignores Indigenous rights to self-representation are often those who stereotype and gaslight GLBTIIQ people, women, the disabled or economically challenged, especially people of color just for desiring change and equality. It is basically saying, “My gratification is more important than your dignity, your rights or even your life.” This is a main facet of rape culture. It is intersecting oppression.
How do we go forward together in a better way? Watch the trailer here, and previous clips from production.
WAYS TO WATCH!
Available with German or English subtitles.
Opportunities for Classroom, Campus, Organization & Library Screenings
If you are interested in also having Virtual or In-person panels with Filmmakers & Film Participants, please contact us via our form, which can be found on our FAQs page.
Streaming & Digital Site License Options – Please contact VTAPE, our Canadian based artist run distributer, to arrange your rental copy and/or screening copy. There are only a few DVD copies left for private use, but we hope to offer a streaming option for inviduals in the near future.
A new excerpt using raw footage from our documentary on poverty porn and the voyeuristic quality of European, but especially German “observation” and misrepresentation of Native American cultures and peoples.
The willful stereotyping of Indigenous peoples and the racism, white supremacist ideology and especially the patriarchy utilized when those from the demographic which gained power through violence, genocide and exploitation of others believe they have the continued right over other peoples bodies, stories and narratives. They use systematic racist and sexist structures in industry and society created by those just like themselves, to continue to erase, replace and/or misrepresent/misuse other marginalized and minoritized peoples and groups.
It’s a deep societal problem that doesn’t just affect Natives.This is not a niche film or issue. The mentality that not only practices but defends the minimization, erasure and silencing of certain groups or peoples, is a widespread problem at the root of most every disaster, crisis and issue facing our world today. It’s at the root of imperialism, capitalism, climate crisis, consumerism and violation of rights of all kinds, past and present. We do not want it to be our future. We all should be committed to ending such practices, “protected status” and privilege right now.
That’s why we say, “This is not about Winnetou. It’s about you and us. ALL of us.” That’s why we say it is far past time to symbolically unlearn and forget Winnetou, and all the practices, the behaviors, mindsets and value(less) systems that promote erasure, exploitation, fetishization and appropriation.
Dialogue from the film: “It’s an unfortunate aspect of capitalism and white supremacy that people end up in a job they don’t necessarily like or exploiting parts of their identity that they would rather not but that’s how you survive. I often downplayed my (Native) identity and didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want to be forced to perform myself to be consumed by white Germans.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the only ways you can make money in Germany, and in Berlin especially. I met many people that all of the things they’d done and all the things they were became a marketing strategy to perform personal tragedies, migration stories, or poverty porn for Germans who consumed it because it made them feel like they’re open-minded, liberal and understanding of other people when they’re voyeurs basically.
I feel like one of the first important things to do is remove the emphasis on spectacle. If your only interaction and the way you interact with others is primarily through spectacle then it’s a very privileged position. It’s very focused, it’s pretty one way. It doesn’t have complexity. I feel that’s the starting point for people being able to interact with Native peoples, and people not like themselves in general.”
Organizations, institutes, universities, etc. are encouraged to contact VTape, the non-profit artist run distribution company based in Canada, which can provide screening and institutional copies for rent or purchase.
We have continued to search for a European or especially a German distributor or studio to broadcast, but no matter how open-minded, diversity conscious and anti-racist many claim to be, we’ve not been able to find one despite our award-winning status and social justice, human rights contentiousness of our film.
Following my participation, albeit a small but contextually accurate part, in “Searching for Winnetou”, the 2018 documentary film on Indian hobbyism, with a million dollar budget very different than my own, both in finances and tone, I was invited to write an op-ed published to CBC Docs. I talk about the matters in the news the past days, but also discuss some important realities and people ALWAYS IGNORED BY GERMAN MEDIA AND SOCIETY whenever Winnetou, Indian hobbyism, cultural appropriation and racism are mentioned.
My Background as Informative on Multiculturalism & the Difference between “White” vs. “non-White” Behaviors
One of the many things some people never think about or even consider, which is a reality faced daily by persons like myself in Germany who may have written about or become “labeled” as a critical of “German culture” (aka cultural appropriation) and Native stereotypes. What those who most often interact with me, only is a product of stereotypes and stereotyping, the dehumanization of Natives, BIPOC or other people of color, that even some who are anti-racist rarely think about. It’s dehumanization because there is ZERO interest in me, but only in what I can perform or supply for others.
My research focuses have long been Indigenous intergenerational historic trauma, which inevitably includes that of Indigenous and original peoples of Europe. I’ve a Master’s in Native/Indigenous Studies, which many assume relates only to Natives of North America as if those total 13 years of combined higher education didn’t include extensive study of European history (past and present), cultures and world civilizations also. Besides my own personal interests and studies since I was a child who happened and was thankful to grow up in an extremely multicultural environment. They don’t think about it, which is fine enough, but its almost always done without according the same regard they would show a white peer working in similar topics, which they assume to have an interest in and having studied cultures other than their own. This is a critically important realization that needs acknowledgement. It is such a common demeaning, undermining and harmful attitude and position POC academics, scholars and professionals face in Germany, even from many Germans who believe themselves open-minded, anti-racist and “global” citizens.
My upbringing was very different than the way I see some Germans believes makes them “open-minded” and appreciative of all cultures because they grew up in Berlin , Köln or Frankfurt with mostly topical access to or ability to observe or perform “cultures”. I talked about it before, for example in this panel at DBS Studios moderated by cultural consultant Cavana Hazleton-Lee, “Can you copyright culture?” I grew with close friends from Taiwan, Hawaii, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Puerto Rico, Korea and Japan, where we ate most meals together, we had sleepovers between us children. I went to dance and languages classes with them, they went to get-togethers with us. I was able to learn and listen to firsthand experiences from other cultures, at their knees, learn about their cultures by helping prepare their foods, tend their gardens and doing handwork or learning musical instruments.
When we were grew up, they cared for our children, too, feed them food from their mouths and rocked them to sleep. We cared for theirs. Here in Germany, what I experienced was Germans may invite you to their homes, but coming to yours? That’s a different story. They may invite your children over to a party, but their children go to your home, let alone have a sleepover? That’s a very different story. Parts fear-based behaviors but also a control/trust factor. Somewhat natural behaviors, of course with one’s children, but POC are treated very differently than white peers.
I began studying genocide, political history when I was 7 or 8 years old, as a European Jewish and others Holocaust survivor from Germany was a part of our group. Her perpetual sadness touched me deeply, and I wanted to know about it, not just certain years, but what was the psychological lead-up to a country and peoples deciding genocide was acceptable, especially as both sides of my family, whether African or Native American, were also subjected to an ongoing genocide. I spoke about that in my personal essay on Medium, “When I Think About America.”
I mention this because the topic of cultural appropriation, misuse and abuse in Germany is both terrible and understandable to me. Like other European peoples, newer designations and originals, there’s been cultural loss but the overwhelming majority was at the hands of their European peers. This must be stated every time. Natives suffered later from what Europeans first did to their own. That doesn’t excuse appropriating cultures or parts of cultures from others to escape one’s trauma. That only continues cycles of violence. We see this a lot in Germany, and its recognized and expressed not just by POC, and shouldn’t be used (but is) by those claiming stopping racist, appropriation of Native cultures is “taking something away from us (Germans!!).”
I and others like me are examples of how you do not have to culturally appropriate, misuse or abuse, and you can be part of other cultures and peoples in a very personal way individually when you are informed, welcomed, rooted. In fact, if I had to create a film, a piece of art or narrative about myself or upbringing, it would have to include my perceptions and experiences with cultures not my own. But whether that or anything else, it absolutely needs to involve Cultural Humility. Germany, as a whole, does not have this or teach it. It’s just the opposite. In the majority of Europe and western society, from a young age people are not only taught to consume, but to see it as innocent exploration or appreciation, and later to justify it and reject any criticism. Largely without knowing anything about the history, origin and effects of such Eurocentric behaviors and practices or the history, cultures and narratives of those people FROM those peoples.
The Things Forgotten in All These Discussions & “Debates”
Like I said above, you don’t have to be culturally appropriative and abusive, dismissive or reductive in interacting with other cultures. When I make kimchi at home, having learned to both grow all the ingredients needed and to make it by a still very close family friend who is Korean, I would never create a business selling it, small or large. I wouldn’t write about it for my non-Korean friends to consume either. Some of my closest who-still-are friends growing up was a German-Mexican family, the father was a German soldier and engineer who came to work at the same Army base my father was stationed at in the USA. He’d met his Mexican to-be-wife when she was living in Germany with her family. Their kids are my sister and I’s age. Summer parties, sleepovers, and many sports outings together. When I wasn’t getting along with my parents, they listened. Of course, there was the age difference, but earlier this year when I heard the wife had passed away, I called to talk to the husband. Now, at age 50 and 80+ years old, it was more relationally balance of mature experiences.
One of the things he shared with me was that his father had been a higher ranking Nazi official who had been stationed and oversaw operations in Yugoslavia. It was chilling to learn. He said that was why he had always especially wanted to live in and support a multicultural experience for his children, as he knew personally supremacist and Eurocentric thinking of any kind, any level, was inherently violent and harmful. He asked me if he had ever made me feel different or less than, and I responded that I had not. In fact, one of my outstanding memories of him was his taking the time to teach me the game “Tiddly-Winks”, when I had felt shy during the first sleepover. Another example that adult and child interactions can be innocent and supportive, not predatory, which is based on the adults behavior. He and I had a great conversation. I felt GOOD.
I mention all of this because there is always the possibility and option to not be abusive, appropriative or predatory. There is always the possibility or option the educating oneself and relearning how to better interact with others, and have humility to make changes in one’s learned behaviors, practices and beliefs. Many people choose not to do so, even when offered, even with the opportunity now more than ever before in history to receive firsthand knowledge. Yet this is not to say, that an upbringing like mine is the only way to have respect for other cultures. It is very much about how one is taught.
Another close friend I met while studying then working in law enforcement, grew up in a small town of about 600 people in Alabama, an entirely “white” town where POC were not allowed. He had never met a POC in person until he went to college in another city in the early 90s. He was raised to respect all cultures, to be anti-racist, curious and humble. He is an excellent example of what is possible, and in fact, was from a German immigrant family on both sides, with an entirely German name. If you didn’t know, Alabama was mostly settled by Germans especially through the mid-regions of the state. German is the 3rd most common European language spoken in the USA, and in the area I grew there were also 1st and 2nd gen German families, and thus bakeries, restaurants, culture groups, etc.
The summary of this post & my sharing of the above personal stories and experiences, is this quote from my op-ed for CBC Docs.
“Some Germans are culturally sensitive In the midst of this racism, there are positive stories that we don’t hear about either. There are Germans who have learned better ways to appreciate and respect Indigenous cultures. Some have stopped dressing up and practice culturally responsible empathy. They recognize the part that white people have played in the exploitation of Indigenous people and want to stop it in all forms. They use their white privilege to improve intercultural understanding and work with Indigenous peoples on Indigenous terms (for example, the Native American Association of Germany).
Not all interest in Indigenous cultures and peoples is exploitative.
German media rarely if ever talks to such people, or if they do, exactly as Carmen Kwasny, the chairperson of the Native American Association of Germany, personally relayed to me, they are treated with antagonism, they are demeaned or even accused of betraying their race or trying to replace Natives. There are positive intercultural collaborations happening ALL of the time here in Germany, and across western society, but they rarely ever make the news. Instead, we are all bombarded by, if not outright white-centric often male focused opinions, commentaries, films, etc. then also the same demographic using other cultures in appropriative ways sometimes backed by a token or supporting Native or POC to justify in a “I can’t be racist, I have a Black friend!” kind of way. And they don’t just treat Native cultures and peoples that way, speaking over, silencing or “interpreting” them with little personal, extended knowledge, but women, the disabled and others, also. Any of their own peers they speak out about it or try to change such behaviors soon find themselves bullied, ridiculed and out of job, but still rarely with the structural power and force to oppress that POC are subjected to daily.
There are no positive effects from colonialism or white supremacist, patriarchal, Eurocentric, structurally racist, sexist, ableist systems dominant in western society, with its power gained from horrific, persistent discrimination and violence, psychological, verbal, emotional and physical of ANYONE they deem unacceptable. THIS MUST BE CHANGED FOR THE VERY SURVIVAL OF OUR WORLD. Please pay attention that I did not state that passively, such as “it must change”. No, there must be active steps to change this damaging, discriminatory systems privileging a small segment of one demographic. This is not to be misconstrued to be an attack on “white men”, but specifically to patriarchy, because those type of men of mainly white European heritage continue to destroy and abuse the best and brightest of their own peers, too.
I might word the quote below differently, but this is a solid summary of my and many, many others feelings, especially POC, marginalized, minoritized groups who have to daily face and often fight alone, even our children too often have too, when facing the societal crimes and effects of racism, white supremacist ideology, Eurocentrism and sexism/misogyny. Yet I and many of us continue to show solidarity with others, but aren’t often reciprocated in visible, tangible positions of resistance and opposition by those of “white” or those of primarily European heritage. And those who do, they also get forgotten by media and society. Cross cultural solidarity and support absolutely, but remember also, that we are often exhausted or frustrated when constantly expected to respond, listen to or be “informed” about similar shitories (this was initially a mistake in typing but I left it because it fits!), which are used to center “white” experiences yet again. That’s failure or lack of ability to actually be allies or work in solidarity by self-centeredness, a foreign concept and behavior in any Indigenous or original culture.
Don’t fall victim to or accept the deliberate twisting of positive statements, movements and terms like “woke and wokeness”, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo, which have been used recently by some “experts” and German media to gaslight and victimize those who criticize and resist racism, sexism and patriarchy. Learn accurate definitions of racism, Eurocentrism, and eurocentric are educate yourself on contextual, historic and contemporary usage and applicable of those terms, which are almost always used to support racism, xenophobia and bigotry and to center “whiteness as rightness”.
“The word ‘woke’ has been purposely repurposed to deter the very work that people focused on awareness about injustice and on the urgent need to eradicate injustice were centering the word to accomplish.
Many have distorted a positive narrative so that injustice can persist.” -Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bitte lesen Sie die vollständige Erklärung auf ihrer Website, die ich mit dieser zusätzlichen Anerkennung voll unterstütze: In Deutschland bezieht sich der Begriff “Natives” zwar in erster Linie auf die Native Nordamerikaner, insbesondere auf die Plains Nations, aber auch auf alle indigenen Gruppen in “Amerikas”. Eine von den Europäern geschaffene und durchgesetzte Bezeichnung, die die Namen der Kontinente durch ihre tatsächlichen Originalbewohner, die Natives, die immer noch hier sind, ignoriert.
Please read the full statement on their website, which I fully endorse with this additional acknowledgement: In Germany, while the term “Native” refers primarily to Native North Americans, especially the Plains Nations, it also refers to all indigenous groups in “the Americas.” A term created and enforced by Europeans that ignores the names of the continents by their actual original inhabitants, the Natives, who are still here. The NAAoG statement will be translated to English in the next days.
The protests and demand for removal and banning of the term “squ*w began decades ago in North America, supported by many Native nations, peoples, non-Natives and objective researchers on the etymology of the term, its origin, historic and contemporary usage, which was deemed racist, sexist exploitive and reductive.
“The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the Native people, of the Washoe people,” said Darrel Cruz of the Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office. “It’s a constant reminder of those time periods when it was not good for us. It’s a term that was inflicted upon us by somebody else and we don’t agree with it.”
RAVENSBURGER WAS FULLY MADE AWARE OF THIS AND OTHER OFFENSIVE PRACTICES AND TERMS FOR YEARS. THEY DELIBERATELY CHOSE TO CONTINUE PRODUCTION THIS YEAR AND ONLY AFTER PROTEST ISSUED A NON-APOLOGY, WHICH HAS GENERATED ANGRY BACKLASH DUE TO WIDESPREAD DELIBERATE MISINFORMATION CIRCULATED BY GERMAN MEDIA.
von Carmen Kwasny (Vorsitzende):
“Am 23.08.2022 fing morgens das Telefon an zu klingeln und hörte bis in die Abendstunden hinein nicht mehr auf. Parallel dazu landeten weitere Interviewanfragen in unserem E-Mail-Postfach. Was war geschehen?
Note: Never forget random attacks, antagonism and racism against Native/Indigenous peoples, especially to our young people, have increased since this new “controversy” began, driven by many in German media’s and other’s misinformation, outright mendacity & white supremacist rhetoric. While many think of this as just a societal debate, just like stereotypes, such behaviors have daily life effects, often violent and discriminatory, for Native peoples. We already often felt unsafe and endured regular bullying and misuse, but this added a new level of venom and arrogance in how we are treated. It’s all demonstrated exactly how harmful stereotypes and appropriation really are. – 1 September 2022.
This is my official statement and sharing of information and situation I’ve experienced due to the on-going controversy of Ravensburger, Winnetou and the “bad faith” arguments, “strawman” examples and false equivalents on Native American stereotypes, cultural appropriation and misrepresentation, and the inherent racism and Eurocentrism at the root of those behaviors and practices. This is what our documentary is about, by the way, not an analysis of May’s work as yet another writer erroneously reported, the latest was in David Baum’s interview of myself at Stern.de.
I believe this continues to be a deliberate escalation of discrimination and hatred of anyone rejecting the contemporary cultural abuse and misuse of Native American cultures & peoples, which many in German media has exacerbated through subjectivity and the spread of misinformation, incendiary unfounded assertions, and race/ethnicity assumptions. And more specifically, the situation has been used to forward so-called, “White Rights”, especially white CIS men, which in actuality means the discrimination, oppression and/or silencing of all other ethnicities and groups except (in this case especially) Natives who fit Eurocentric stereotypes and support anti-Blackness, homo- and transphobia and Eurocentrism. etc.
I have recently met with members of “Natives in Germany”, a quite new group of persons of Native and Indigenous heritage here in Germany, which is entirely different and unassociated with the Native American Association of Germany. (Read NAAoG’s statement here, which I fully support.) First Tagesschau in the interview with Tyrone White (Lakota) misattributed his association with NAAoG, which error was duplicated by SternTV in its 28 August 2022 broadcast, which myself, Tyrone White and others refused to participate in, due to its adversarial format, which indeed resulted in what might be term a show of white male privilege, arrogance and condescension.
I also am not a member of NAAoG, but have worked in cooperation with its chairperson on several projects in the last decade and will continue to do so. While the “Natives in Germany” may overtly have a different style and method than NAAoG and partially than my own, I support their joining the important resistance and fight against racism, cultural appropriation, and stereotypes, which has been ongoing for decades in Germany. To fight such a pervasive historic and social crime as racism, it takes many types, methods and solutions by both Natives and non-Natives, and any human beings to end this plague. To reject the structural white supremacist ideology and patriarchy who believe it is their right to violate and/or control other peoples rights, narratives, histories and bodies, this includes everyone, including their own peers, past and present. It’s all connected: Reproductive rights, racism, sexism, ableism, etc.
I believe this is an important time in Germany’s perspective on “accepted” forms of racism and sexism, such as that against Natives and Indigenous peoples. As my documentary, work record and other material showed and shared from a variety of sources, both Native and non-Native, its critically important for all of us to move forward together in a spirit of restorative justice, and not the continued fetishization, fake ownership of and misrepresentation, misuse and misattribution of Native cultures, traditions and peoples. This also applies to and supports emancipation and self-representation by any marginalized or minoritized peoples and groups, to a help heal our world and create a better future for all our children.
It is time to symbolically #ForgetWinnetou, and work together with Native and Indigenous people with a spirit of cultural humility so that respect can develop in healthy ways mutually beneficial, and not in the culturally abusive, Eurocentric way much of Germany has perpetrated for decades.
Violence & Hypersexualization of Native Girls and Women
In particular, those who claim wrongly that stereotypes are harmless, that “playing Indian” and stories are just fairytales that have no impact on real life, and that it’s all just a part of German culture. They say, “How dare anyone protest?” “How dare this be taken away because of being overly Politically Correct?” Being PC is something I do not believe in and not just because it is an activity and idea created by white people to cover up the structural racism that has never gone away since colonialism and the first invasions of the renamed Americas. Mostly only white people were deceived by the PC control device, which I discussed the long term effects of actually increasing white dismissal of POC challenges to racism, exclusion, stereotyping, etc., find that article here, “Today’s Cultural Appropriation and the Long Term Effects of Politically Correct.”
I have never called for or supported the banning of Karl May’s books, but the Ravensburger books should NEVER have been produced. YEARS AGO they and other publishers were advised and pressed to discontinue usage of stereotypes, and other cultural appropriative and misrepresentative material not only by Natives and POC, but many other organizations and individuals working in cooperation to reduce Germany’s societal crime of racism that absolutely goes beyond the oversimplification of the White/Black binary. Ravensburger’s ignored that.
Ravensburger was advised BEFORE production of these books that including racist, sexist slurs like squ*w was absolutely unacceptable, besides the stereotypes and misuse of Native cultures. They ignored that, too. So this is not “cancel culture” or about banning a book instead of using it to educate. Obviously, they are not only refuse respectful education but believe reproducing or introducing racist, sexist slurs is acceptable. This just an excuse to use slurs and say, “Oh its just historic!” It wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now. And all the terrible coverage done by #Tagesschau especially and #SternTV only exacerbated the situation, NOT our challenging racism and sexism.
The willful usage and defense of such indefensible decision to use the term in a children’s book no less, is interconnected with other examples of contemporary racism, misrepresentation and erasure of the genocide, ethnocide and mass sexual assaults, rape and abuse of Native young girls and woman (and Two-Spirits) since Europeans first invaded. Ravensburger’s non-apology and excuse is reprehensible, and the attempt to introduce usage of the slur to a new generation. Deliberate misinformation has been circulated by German media, which has escalated antagonism, misunderstanding and hatred against anyone rejecting the continued cultural abuse and misuse of Native cultures and peoples.
The Flood of Requests to Native Americans on the Winnetou/Ravensburger Controversy
In the last days, Natives mostly, but also other POC experienced a flood of requests to mostly answer the same questions, but “Forget Winnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way” documentary, completely ignored by German film distributors, funders, studios and agents despite it winning awards answered those and MORE. Ask yourself why is that? Our documentary still doesn’t have a German or European distributor, and never had backing to broadcast on TV etc. while those by white male directors and producers especially, are quickly accepted and shown such as at 3sat. Structural racism indeed!
How do you feel about the portrayal of Native Americans in Karl May’s Winnetou book?
What are the consequences of this portrayal for Native Americans in real life?
What would art (books, movies, etc.) have to look like that adequately represents Native Americans?
What do you think about Germans wearing indigenous jewelry or children dressing up as Native Americans for Mardi Gras?
ALL of these questions have been answered repeatedly last month, last year, 2 years ago, 5 years, even 10 and 20 years ago! This is a waste of time and energy at this point, especially for Natives & POC, and shows clearly that by majority, Germany has not listened or pointedly ignored what Natives, other POC and allies have said for decades. The education system, the film studios, the writers etc. have ignored them in very Eurocentric, white privileged ways that are covertly/overtly white supremacist in ideology. How so? Because they pointedly place “white” needs, feelings, thoughts and beliefs (white male especially) as the most important, penultimate deciding factor on behaviors, whether it continues hurt or harm others and themselves.
There has been few exceptions in the past years besides these. Notice the type of writers/journalists?
There is distinct, deafening COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and/or deliberate misdirection. Conversations are not moving forward because of such bad faith, circular discussions, aka “debates” wherein Natives and other POC are asked to “debate” with those who are apathetic “devil’s advocates”, who try to downplay or “good people on both sides” the issue or outright defenders of racism. In all of it, it is seeking to continue control over all narratives relating to Native Americans, whether fictional or non-fictional, which continues to cause discrimination against Natives in society.
Just one example is the fact Germany believes other cultures should have a center and support to share their cultures and history with others in German society. Good, right? However, Native Americans have been many times rejected when applying for funding for this and told, “There are enough such places about Natives in Germany already, another is not needed.” When every one of those is WHITE created and led, and are overwhelmingly misrepresentative and reliant on stereotypes and Eurocentric interpretations of Native peoples and histories. There are NO Native American cultural centers in Germany, by Natives for Natives and everyone. This is blatantly and egregiously discriminatory, Eurocentric and structurally racist in method and effect, demonstratively proving Native “fairytales” and white supremacist ideology can and do affect society in the worst ways.
Appropriation vs. Appreciation Falseness + “There’s more important things Natives should focus on!”
This nicely summarizes many points BIPOC like myself and other Natives & POC have said and shared for decades.
For those who wish to progress & create positive change? I’m for it but….
My response to the request I mentioned and to others using the same retreaded rhetoric:
“From personal and professional experiences I know these are highly complex issues, and no one individual or group is exactly the same in why they accept or reject the continued misuse of Native cultures, fictitiously or in daily life. In my writing, my lectures and psychological counseling, I always include that fact and am very well aware of the spectrum of experiences. Therefore, I respectfully decline to repeat and share the same information I’ve been asked dozens of times in the last two days (Tagesspiegel, Stern, ) and the past twenty years (my bibliography). This is a personal choice, and in no way is intended nor should be taken as a negative opinion on anyone who does choose to participate. You are welcome to share this statement in part in the correct context or as a whole.
Instead, I will continue to move conversations forward on how to stop perpetuating stereotypes, how to make interculturally positive changes now and in the future, and work together with like-minded others to make a better, more respectful society for all ethnicities, cultures and peoples, especially for all children. If at any time in the future (the company) has a question(s) or is interested in cultural consultation, education and cooperation, I am available for inquiry. https://flyingwithredhaircrow.com/.”
A helpful FAQ list about the documentary, and other resources on these topics can be found here.
In a recent Twitter post an important point was made by Dr. Noa Ha, a participant from our documentary, “Forget Winnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way” and a “(Post)colonial urbanist. Des/integration, critical race, decolonial studies. @ art school Berlin-Weissensee and DeZIM.”
I responded on the thread “Another facet of whiteness and whiteness-centeredness, both of which have the same roots: Racism. They’re still ask the same questions about Winnetou that were answered years ago. As in Rostock Lichtenhagen, no real social changes have been made. People are deliberately holding on to, and even defending, behaviors and practices that cause enormous harm.
It’s all connected.
I have done a few interviews in the last days regarding the Ravensburger book controversy and the new Winnetou film, but I’ve declined most, especially those asking the same questions already answered last month, last year, two, five and ten years ago. But a certain Germany and Germans refuse to listen and willfully defend racism and racist practices, and the teaching of perpetuation of Eurocentrism and cultural appropriation to another generation as “part of German culture”. So, racism is your culture? German media has largely been inflating, misinforming and encouraging defensive of racism and outrage over consequences for the support of stereotypes and cultural appropriation.
Thus far, you can partially read the articles/interviews cited below online or in print, but these are in German. And inevitably, at least one source stated a complete falsehood about my documentary, “Forget Winnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way” at the beginning of my interview. And then, they wonder why we and I delete their requests because of such misuse and misrepresentation of ourselves and our work? Rather like what they do to Native Americans in these books and films. Yet another example of how affective even fictional caricatures and stereotypes are in influencing behaviors.
A couple of articles/interviews with me so far, and this list will be updated:
24 August 2022 von David Baum – @STERN.DE: “Die Debatte um die Neuauflage des Winnetou-Stoffs geht weiter. Uschi Glas, die Karl May-Gesellschaft und Franz Josef Wagner haben sich geäußert. Im stern kommen die Betroffenen zu Wort: Red Haircrow ist Mitglied der Chiricahua Apache/Cherokee und kritisiert die Winnetou-Bücher und -Filme bereits seit Jahren – unter anderem in einem Dokumentarfilm.”
Der Titel und die Informationen über unseren Dokumentarfilm sind völlig unwahr, wie die Filmbeschreibung eindeutig besagt, und die Sie auf unserer FAQ-Seite nachlesen können.
Ist der Film eine Analyse von Karl Mays Werk oder der Figur des Winnetou?
NEIN. Wie unsere Filmsynopse besagt, geht es in diesem Film um:
a) Rassismus, weiße Vorherrschaftsideologie und/oder Eurozentrismus beim Missbrauch von Natives und anderen Gruppen und ihren Kulturen, ob gut gemeint oder nicht b) die Auswirkungen solcher Verhaltensweisen und die Verbindung zu anderen zeitgenössischen Themen, und c) die Korrektur weit verbreiteter Stereotypen durch die Vermittlung korrekter Kenntnisse über indigene Völker in erster Linie durch indigene Personen.
Und…. Wer ist noch der Meinung, dass man die Fotos der jungen Schauspieler nicht mehr zeigen sollte, sondern stattdessen den Regisseur, den Produzenten oder die Geldgeber des Films? Ich denke, das ist unfair gegenüber den Schauspielern. Sie haben den Film nicht geschrieben. Sie waren keine Redakteure beim Ravensburger Verlag.
Sharing a post extremely relevant to the recent avoidable controversy of a well-known publisher freezing delivery of a publication some deemed promoting racism and stereotypes of Native Americans. The same publisher (and others) were challenged and petitioned years ago to instead support fiction and non-fiction writing and translated material by actual Native Americans on Native Americans (sometimes working in collaboration/cooperation with non-Natives also). As you see, it was ignored despite Native American organizations, groups and individuals making it easier than ever before to work together in positive ways that do not perpetuate racist stereotypes, misrepresentation and appropriation.
Oh, and the people fearmongering, “They’re trying to take everything from us!” “It’s just fiction!” Absurd, easily debunked rationalizations. A few resources, Illuminative, Reclaiming Truth, American Psychological Association. Some of this research is decades old, how are so many under-informed, under-educated?
A recent social media post by Johnnie Jae, one of the outstanding Native protagonists in our documentary, “Forget Winnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way”really hit the “nail on the head” of what major, life threatening issues we see in western society that are centered on rising racism, xenophobia and intolerance of all kinds. Johnnie works in so many ways not just for Native peoples but all peoples, especially those minoritized or “othered” for being “different”. CLICK THE IMAGE FOR FULL-SIZE.
We definitely see this happening in #Germany, too. Stereotypes and the process/mechanism of “Othering” is a symptom of deep fear generated by racism and white supremacist ideology and beliefs. It is manipulated by leaders and politicians, businessmen and corporations. #45 still didn’t elect himself. The #AfD didn’t win more seats by electing itself. It was more and more “conservative” people who still falsely think themselves non-racist, and believe they are just protecting their own interests.
Red Haircrow’s response to OP: “I was just writing an essay about that the other day. Fear permeates America, cultivated and manipulated fear. And if you don’t have that kind of fear evidenced by your behavior, your being, your outlook, whether its due to knowing your culture, accepting of your sexuality, confident in your beliefs etc? You receive pure rage, jealousy, hatred or carefully covered envy from them in every interaction with you.”
So too, this hate, envy, rage are some of the responses we receive when we dare to call hobbyism and cultural appropriation, systemic racism. For example, when we dare to point out it is exploitation, theft and facilitators of the cycle of genocide, the refusal to repatriate human remains and sacred items and objects. We see hatred and resentment in the eyes and actions of those who willfully “redface” and steal other peoples cultures without care for the harm it does to all people. They cry, “It’s part of our culture. No one has the right to take it away!” So, RACISM is your culture? Seems about right.
We see hatred and resentment in those who demolished and had their own cultures and traditions twisted to Nazism, who are afraid to learn of their true ancient culture and ways, because they might find them self accused of being a sympathizer. Instead they appropriate, misrepresent and misuse other cultures and peoples, using white privilege and violently gained power they claim to reject.
We see hatred and resentment in those who cry, “We’ve suffered enough!” who believe they are not racist, when their beliefs and choices are based on racist, discriminatory stereotypes and practices. Alternatively, there are those who are openly racist and xenophobic, trying in a warped effort to re-create “their culture”, yet it is spoiled by white supremacist ideology. You do deserve to know your culture, but it wasn’t POC who took it away. It was YOUR OWN PEOPLE who screwed it up. Hate is NOT a culture. And if you know your culture, you don’t feel threatened by others.
It’s no wonder some do try to escape through hobbyism or appropriation, but that’s loving in the wrong way. Germany doesn’t know how to save itself. Even those trying to keep from sinking into full neo-Nazism and white supremacy don’t know how because they continue to look to leaders and politicians to make the changes. In Indigenous ways, the power is in the PEOPLE. Change in the US, in Germany, anywhere will only happen when the PEOPLE stand up against intolerance, elitism, racism, xenophobia and hatred, whatever their background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or anything else, when they stand TOGETHER against hatred and harmful self-interest of any kind.
Another major problem in Germany, too, is that so many groups work just for themselves, one of the main ones being white feminists, who have gained more power but use it to oppress and discriminate against others (aka, “We have it harder than you!” they say to WOC/POC who have all that AND racism to contend with). They do not know how to work together, and they’ve never known how to fight. Most don’t have the courage to make the hard choices, in that yes, Indigenous peoples have the clear advantage. Basically, we’ve had to because of you, the Europeans, the colonizers.
THAT is what white people get threatened by, that is what they’re afraid of, but they can’t admit to themselves, so they just strike out violently or want segregation. In many ways, most Europeans today are the survivors who capitulated and accepted forced conversion. Most Originals fought to the death. It’s no wonder some seeking “originality” in the far right, more often seek warrior traditions. Yet they direct their violence to the wrong group, and they must do it in a pack, mobs of hate-filled, angry scared people. Or the political and wealth elitists who don’t give a damn for any of us really.
Most of them can’t stand to even SEE a person of color, because deep down they know we have survived and will survive despite them, and they do not have any advantage except the racist structural power they gained through horrific violence. They want to go back to violence (if necessary they say, we see it especially in the USA) but it is easy to kill, to be violent. It takes wisdom and courage to be around others, to listen, to learn, it have humility and an open heart. They cannot understand how even just ONE of us will stand up against a hundred of them, guns, conditioned dogs, tear gas or whatever. It is our beliefs, our cultures, our peoples and traditions that make us strong in that way. They are terrified, jealous and envious of that, and too entitled, proud and lacking in humility, in true self, to understand how and why we are that way, and how they too can become that way.
Please read the words of Wanbli Gleska Tohake, who was also heard in our documentary. CLICK TO SEE FULL-SIZE.
When people say the world is doomed, if they are talking about people and groups like that, I would agree. People like that are willing to let the whole world burn, just so they can feel they are right. Otherwise, NO, I am not letting people like that destroy the future for my son or any children, who all deserve better than this self-centered, selfish, immature bullshit of Europeans and colonizers who are entitled and privileged yet still maladjusted, needy and arrogant.
PEOPLE, how do we work together to make a better future for all children? It will not be by following Eurocentric, Eurocentrized compartmentalized, ethically, morally and culturally weak ways that has gotten western society to the hot mess it is today through historical amnesia, self-delusion and violence.
Aus dem Jahr 2017, mein der Freitag Interview mit Matthias Dell über unseren Dokumentarfilm und die Stereotypen der indigenen Gruppen. Aber…es geht nicht darum, dass es langweilig ist. Außerdem wird in diesem Film eine scheinbar queere Figur als etwas Böses dargestellt. Dies ist ein weiteres schädliches Stereotyp und eine Troupe einer marginalisierten oder minorisierten Gruppe. Deutschland fördert weiterhin schamlos die Stereotypen der indigenen Gruppen. Rassismus und Stereotypen.
Deutsche wie diese indoktrinieren Kinder weiterhin mit rassistischen, kolonialen Praktiken. Praktiken und Verhaltensweisen, die in der Ideologie der weißen Vorherrschaft und des Eurozentrismus wurzeln.
Sie lehren auch Vergewaltigungskultur und -mentalität. Das bedeutet, zu ignorieren, wenn jemand sagt: “Nein, bitte hör auf, du tust mir/uns weh”.
Und man bringt ihnen bei, mit “Ja, das werde ich/wir! Weil es sich für mich gut anfühlt.”
Was für eine schreckliche Sache, die man Kindern beibringt! Und wie wir in der Welt um uns herum sehen, sind die Stereotypen von Geschlecht, sexueller Orientierung, ethnischer Zugehörigkeit usw. All das ist schädlich und unnötig, aber Regisseure und Autoren wie diese werden weiterhin finanziert. Wer finanziert solchen Rassismus?
Kürzlich habe ich den Film PREY rezensiert, der sich positiv auf die Arbeit mit indigenen Nationen und Völkern bezieht und ihre Kulturen und Geschichten auf nicht rassistische Weise darstellt. Natürlich PREY nicht für Kinder geeignet, aber meine pädagogische Rezension enthält viele Informationen, die jedem helfen, sich gegen hartnäckige, vorsätzlich rassistische Filme zu informieren.
#FORGETWINNETOU! LOVING IN THE WRONG WAY
Zusammenfassung unseres Doku-Film: “Dieselbe Haltung, die das Recht indigener Völker auf Selbstdarstellung ignoriert, ist es auch, die GLBTIIQ-Menschen, Frauen, Behinderte oder wirtschaftlich Benachteiligte, insbesondere People of Color, stereotypisiert und gaslighted, d.h. ihnen die Realität ihrer Erfahrungen abspricht, nur weil sie sich Veränderungen und Gleichberechtigung wünschen. Im Grunde heißt das: “Meine Freiheit und meine Bedürfnisse sind wichtiger als deine Würde, deine Rechte oder sogar dein Leben.” Es ist eine sich überschneidende Unterdrückung.
Die meisten Filme über Native Americans konzentrieren sich auf europäische Erzählungen oder indigene Erfahrungen in Nordamerika, aber es gibt auch Native Americans im Ausland, und im “indianerverrückten” Deutschland – “auf die falsche Art geliebt” zu werden, hat viele Formen. Deutschland ist ein Mikrokosmos der Kämpfe, die überall auf der Welt stattfinden, sowohl gegen als auch für die Dekolonialisierung; für die Überwindung der weißen Vorherrschaft und des Imperialismus, die unsere Welt gespalten und zerstört haben.
Wir erforschen die Wurzeln von Rassismus, Kolonialismus und Kultureller Aneignung in Deutschland aus einer selten beachteten Perspektive: dem Stereotyp der indigenen Amerikaner, die sie zu verehren vorgeben.
Warum diese ” Charaktere ” so rassistisch und schädlich sind
Von der APA:
“Solche Aussagen wurden nach Forschungen über Maskottchen, Karikaturen und Vorurteile zum Thema Natives im Rahmen einer Resolution der American Psychological Association aus dem Jahr 2005 bestätigt. Die Organisation forderte ein sofortiges Ende solcher Darstellungen auf Grund der negativen Auswirkungen, die diese nicht nur auf die Natives, sondern auf alle Menschen und insbesondere auf Kinder haben.
Die Forschung hat gezeigt, dass die fortgesetzte Nutzung von amerikanisch-indianischen Maskottchen, Symbolen, Bildern und Persönlichkeiten auf Grund folgender Punkte nicht nur eine negative Auswirkung auf die Schüler amerikanisch-indianischer Wurzeln, sondern auf alle Schüler hat:
• Sie untergräbt die Bildungserfahrung aller Gemeinschaften – insbesondere bei solchen, die wenig oder gar keinen Kontakt zu indigenen Völkern hatten. • Sie lehrt Kinder nicht-indianischer Herkunft, dass es in Ordnung ist, an kulturell missbräuchlichem Verhalten teilzuhaben und Ungenauigkeiten über die Kultur der Indianer Amerikas zu verbreiten. • Sie bestätigt negative Bilder/Vorurteile, die durch den Mainstream befördert werden • Sie vermindert die Fähigkeit der indianischen Nationen Amerikas, akkurate und respektvolle Bilder ihrer Kultur, ihrer Spiritualität und ihrer Traditionen zu vermitteln. Viele Indianer Amerikas beschreiben die Vorurteile als respektlos und als Beleidigung gegenüber ihren spirituellen Überzeugungen. • Stereotype Wahrnehmungen von Natives sind ein zeitgenössisches Beispiel für Vorurteile und eine Form der Diskriminierung einer ethnischen Minderheit durch eine herrschende Kultur.”