“In Germany and most of the world, the trauma North American Indigenous peoples experience is mostly believed to be from events in the past, focusing on direct methods and effects of invasion and colonization by Europeans. However, the cycle of genocide, of violence, erasure, and the silencing and „replacement“ of Native peoples never ended.
Despite tremendous efforts and greater availability of firsthand Indigenous sources of knowledge and history, the renovation and refurbishment of trauma continues in a variety of ways, from the persistence of Eurocentrism in curricula at all levels of education, to pop culture references and western societies, systems and structures as whole. Honest examination and humility is needed in examining the past and present history of Indigenous peoples, not only of North America and worldwide, but those of Europe and the unresolved trauma here, which connection is often overlooked or minimized.”
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.
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.
Don’t look away at any moment. Prey is a beautifully shot and realized film strategically different than its predecessors, arguably far outshining them in depth of story and character. Other reviews will take you through the cinematography, direction or dissection of fight scenes, symbolism and the new Predator appearance, and inevitably to Eurocentric based criticisms.
While never forgetting the range of emotions experienced watching PREY as any viewer might, this spoiler free review will provide resourced knowledge and facts on certain intercultural, European and Native topics relating to the film and its production, for those wanting to expand their minds beyond the stereotypes and mis/disinformation still being taught about Native cultures, peoples and history. Note, references and resources follow the main review.
Traditions vs. Stereotypes
Set in 1719, in what was renamed North America by European colonizers despite Indigenous peoples having their own names for it, the story centers on a young Comanche woman named Naru who is played by Amber Midthunder. Naru wishes to be more than a gatherer and caregiver, she wishes to also be recognized as a hunter, which some viewers have surmised to suggest she was a “Two-spirit” person (1). Not necessarily. To my understanding, the characters in film never say this about Naru, but unlike European interpretation and stereotypes of Native life (and even their own pre-colonialization millenia), each member of the community needed a wide range of skills, for example, sewing, gathering and knowing healing items, finding and cooking food, to building and animal husbandry. Tasks were not gender-specific/only, a practice of labeling to support patriarchy, hierarchies and discrimination shared and enforced by Christians first in Europe, then in the Americas (2).
In PREY, Naru goes beyond the new troupish practice in film (or video games) of centering a (usually white) female character able to fight and defeat even the toughest opponent, singly or in groups. Naru is beyond the practice of simply replacing the typically white male lead with a woman, without changing the way the story is written, and how the characters and their experiences are portrayed or exaggeratedly representing “empowerment” through adoption of the self-same, most problematic characteristics of toxic masculinity. With her loyal dog companion at her side, in Naru we see a young woman who wasn’t required to be scantily-clad “Pocahantas” style, (who was a child during the events portrayed by Disney, who was subjected to child rape, kidnapping & an early death at barely 20yrs old), and who is vulnerable at times, yet also brilliantly shows resilience, ingenuity and intelligence rarely accorded women of color in film, especially Native American or Indigenous women. If included at all in films or TV series, Native American women are stereotypically and overwhelmingly portrayed as drug addicts, rape victims and/or are subjected to violence, often very graphically and in ways (also rarely done) to female actors of primarily European heritage (3).
In the film, some objectors to Naru’s official recognition as a hunter, as she was obviously proficient and known for her prowess, were due to fears for her safety (and maybe not from animals), but others showed active resentment, which may or may not have been influenced by the changing social dynamics influenced by contact with white men. By 1719, even this far west there would have been news or contact, some extensive, with European explorers, traders and trappers and the priests/historians often accompanying them. From the beginning, both Natives and Europeans recorded the refusal of most Europeans to respect, and in some cases, even acknowledge Native women’s important roles in their communities, voicing derision and shock at how they were leaders, commerce heads and spiritual guides. Such ones were relegated to a perpetual subservient role, in print and in practice, which some ill-disposed Native men (past and present) decided to accept against traditional Native values and worldviews (4).
For the first time in watching Predator films, even since the first movie headed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (and perhaps still my favorite), it occurred to me the wastefulness of the Predator’s way, as was perhaps intended, as compared to a similar prideful colonizer way, the “take & waste” for sport and without anything resembling true respect. However, this particular Predator was different than we’ve seen in such films as 2004’s, “Alien vs. Predator” or read about in novels like “Predator: Hunter’s Planet” (1994), they have their own personalities and differences, too. Their own interpretation of the Predator code.
Very early in the film, viewers may not have been surprised to see a trap, but that is metal and secured by hammered metal links in what first appears unspoiled nature, its silent presence might introduce dread in anyone, but especially Indigenous hearts. It is an alien device in their world. Thus, anyone might rightly deduce we will see both two kinds of predators in PREY, and a juxtaposition of what type is worse, the big, fanged jawed warrior we’re used to in the series or the more insidious, genocidal type more often heroized in film and western society. Indeed, the European language speaking predators wants and goals are different than the extraterrestrial alien’s, and as history has shown, without restriction to age, threat-level or location.
This incarnation of the Predator series also portrays the reality, which other genres also show, i.e. that “not all European invaders/settlers were the same”, which really goes without saying, as an individual(s) of any group is not the same as all others in that group. This is clearly highlighted when one presumed Frenchman says as much. The problem then and now is, more Europeans (American or otherwise) mostly still follow and even elect some of the worst examples of humanity, mostly due to fear (even paranoia) of the unknown and their own self-interest: as long as they remain at least a little “above” marginalized and minoritized peoples and groups, they get to keep a certain privilege (at least in their own minds). Yet they lose their spirits and any connection to a healthy culture, which too often results in cultural appropriation (which we’ll talk about later) from the very peoples and cultures they collectively nearly destroyed. Although their demographic has the near total majority of structural power, they never stand up against their peers, the minority of bullies, too often siding with these against any who try to stand up against injustice, inequity and violence (5).
More on Fetishization, Cultural Appropriation & the Importance of Native Women
“They treat Mother Earth like they treat women… They think they can own us, buy us, sell us, trade us, rent us, poison us, rape us, destroy us, use us as entertainment and kill us. I’m happy to see that we are talking about the level of violence that is occurring against Mother Earth because it equates to us [women]. What happens to her happens to us… We are the creators of life. We carry that water that creates life just as Mother Earth carries the water that maintains our life.” –Lisa Brunner, White Earth Ojibwe
Naru’s story isn’t just a PREY or PREDATOR story, as utterly enthralling, exciting and heartbreaking as many such as myself found it. Watching Naru use her strengths, observational skills and wisdom about her body and environment different than a man might have or could have, to battle a foe of much greater strength was thrilling. It helped renew my fighting, resistant spirit in my here and now, in my life where overwhelming odds and threats are so constant, it is easy to feel hopeless or without worth or possibility. That is exactly what a certain demographic wants marginalized, minoritized or anyone different to feel, whether that’s being neurodivergent, non-heteronormative, of different socio-economic status, heredity or ethnicity or whatever else. They want them to disappear.
Naru’s story is also one of empowerment in a very specific way that should be seen as a message particularly to men, very much including Native ones. That is, Native women and Two-Spirit persons need and deserve support to regain their places in Native societies, and are of benefit in any society or situation. Without their power and influence in Native communities, it may be recognized communities have been slower to heal, less resilient and reliant on Native languages, cultures and traditions which are Medicine, and less able to fight violence, desecration & erasure of Indigenous values and ways, which benefit all. I certainly won’t fail to mention this includes original European groups and Indigenous peoples, and their women and sacred beings also, who were first in the line of fire from Europeans who adopted and violently interpreted Christianity to further their aims of power (6).
PREY is a triumphant film for so many reasons. It was beautiful in so many ways. It’s a great example of how people from the dominant structural power can work together with people from marginalized and minoritized groups in ways THE LATTER feel help correct centuries of misrepresentation and misinformation instead of reinforcing white supremacist, sexist, Eurocentric narratives and behavior.
I highly recommend PREY for anyone of appropriate age, acknowledging there is graphic violence and scenes of death of both human and animals, although not as explicit as seen in previous Predator series.
Disclaimer: This review includes commentary and opinions informed by research, correspondence and extended contact, both personal and professional, with Native academicians, experts, relatives and elders. As clearly seen above and below, references and citations are provided to many, and more may be added in the future. It is not designed nor intended to demean, represent, or speak for any specific Native nation, group or demographic.
(2) The practice of labeling (and disdaining/shunning) gender specific/only was later introduced and enforced by Christians first in Europe, then in the Americas, in which someone who appeared to only be male was expected to do only certain work, certain tasks, and be romantically or sexually attracted solely to the “opposite gender”, and similarly women were supposed to restrict themselves to certain work (goals, ideals, etc.) deemed acceptable for them as the “fairer” but “weaker sex”. For each, this included both spoken and unspoken restrictions about dress, comportment, styles of walking, laughter, speech, etc. unless one be deemed “unnatural”, and hence deserving of punishments and even death. An important note in connection to object (1), Christendom’s priests viciously opposed and prompted the deadly targeting of any and all Two-Spirit persons they observed in Native communities, beginning the even more intensive oppression and abuse of such persons which continues today, and which some Native communities accepted, particularly those who accepted the worst interpretation of the Christian religion foreign also to Europeans.
(4) Many Indigenous societies were matriarchal and/or egalitarian, with men, women and Two-Spirit individuals handling matters in their recognized purviews, physical, spiritual, social. Europeans (almost always men) often refused dealing with women and especially Two-Spirit persons, and in recording Native stories, cultures and traditions they observed: from the very beginning the overwhelming majority of their accounts recorded only a third of actual Native life and living, and that with European interpretations and beliefs superimposed upon them. The Native American chieftain system believed traditional and de rigeur by most of the world is mispresentative of most Native tribes, which had a triumvirate of sorts, that of the men’s, women’s and Two-Spirit councils. The male-only chieftainship is one that came to be more utilized, at least in front of outsiders, through adopting foreign, European patriarchal ways, lowering status/power, and erasing and excluding women and Two-Spirits, to the detriment of all. This practice and information is found in many sources, but one that collected many first hand accounts regarding is in “Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Breath: The Twinned Cosmos of Indigenous America” by Barbara Alice Mann, which I reviewed for NAISA in 2018. This book also goes into the metaphysical, ancient beings of Native North America different than Indigenous peoples, symbolism, Thunderbirds and sacred creatures.
(5) Early resources, (the best sources of recording accurately what Europeans did, as many are self-written accounts, not the revisions of the 1800s forward), from the earliest days of European incursions to “North America” but especially when more opted to go to the “colonies” to escape the abuses and injustices of the “lower” classes and minorities of the Old Countries, some wished to live in peace with Native Americans and had formed working alliances of commerce and trade (1600-1700s). And I am not talking about Cherokees etc. of later American history (1750-ish forward) or the largely British colonists. However, the British crown and its servants objected to this, abolished such alliances, and even jailed and executed those who tried to defend such choices. The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History at Smithsonian Magazine.
That being said, in particular, Europe’s various monarchies and peerages using Christianity as a crutch and sword, creating a perfect storm of savagery and depravity wherein non-privileged groups were unleashed on the world, with the worst of its criminals being allowed freedom to do whatever they wished as long as the Church and State reaped most of the reward. Through the wealthy’s excesses, countless wars, revisions of the Bible and Church doctrines, intolerances, oppressions and bigotry, they created generations willing to do anything to anyone to gain some power, wealth or land, and they stamped their seal of approval on it all with the 15th century’s Doctrine of Discovery (still not rescinded”), the Papal Bulls and Manifest Destiny to absolve themselves or their agents of any crime of genocide, theft etc. (Luk, 2022; Eneas, 2022; The UN’s Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples).
(6) For more information about original European peoples, decolonizing and reconnecting to their Indigenous lifeways, beliefs and meanings, a good resource is “Awakening the Horse Peoples” resource site. This “decolonization is a powerful process that allows reconnection with the places we come from, and the ways of life that shaped our ancestor’s experience and continue to live hidden within ourselves; reawakening identities of who we are in a line of people from ancient ancestors to future generations; restoration of sacred ways of life, transforming from allies to true relatives in anti-racist action, solidarity work, and resistance struggles of Indigenous people and other people of color; and making healing of historic traumas possible for ourselves, and for Indigenous people who suffer from colonization and genocide.”
My Current & Continuing Projects & Endeavors
Current/Continuing Projects & Endeavors
“Almost” (website) a short documentary on overcoming stigma and prejudice. In production.
On-going research project on Autistic Spectrum Disorder, intercultural competence and the effects of stigma and prejudice against different cognitive realities and abilities. See related research here.
This is a post from 2017 or so from redhaircrow.com, but is more relevant than ever before (unfortunately). Despite all educational efforts by their more enlightened peers and us, Germans willfully persistent in fetishization, erasure/replacement and stereotyping behaviors. There’s a willful insistence in ignoring this is a component of racism, related to colonialism and Eurocentrism AND/OR also accompanied by refusal to acknowledge the connection of accepted Native American stereotypes and misuse of Native cultures and peoples to the hatred, intolerance, conflicts and wars escalating or being fomented around the world.
From childhood, this creates and nurtures the mindset and practice that certain peoples, groups or individuals rights to life, safety and self-representation can be ignored, dismissed or even mocked if they object. Adherence to white supremacy ideology and structural racism is what allows this demographic to widely continue, and even defend, such practices. Good to know, we and others of their peers will continue to promote respect for all peoples, whatever their ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc. and not their “rape culture”. That is: ignoring when someone says, “No, don’t do this to me/us”, and they say, “Yes, we will because we want to. We don’t care if it harms you or We don’t believe it hurts you.” What a terrible thing to teach a child.
Shared: Because many “others” “foreigners” specific ethnicities, and in this case “Indianer” or Native American Indians are only presented in shows, as entertainment, as costumed figures who are there to entertain Germans in some way…stereotypes abound here, and are expected and even demanded. Often you see the same rapt look and desire: “Teach us! Show us! Make us laugh with wonder! Cry with excitement, shudder with amazement, dread, outrage (as to native treatment of the past)” but whatever it is, they want what they want.
For Native Americans they expect, with very clear stereotype guidelines, how you should look, speak, engage, too. If you don’t look, act or perform as they expect, they are disappointed, dejected and dissatisfied. You must meet their expectations or you are not “real”, you are not “authentic.” The children cry and wail while parents comfort or ignore them, but seldom is there any factual, contexual (age appropriate, of course) information provided. Even in textbooks or other educational materials, having learn this propensity from the US and Canada, most “information” is stereotypical in nature and content, and from non-native sources or Europeanized (a.k.a. colonized) mindsets tailored to keep non-natives comfortably within established, if fabricated, parameters.
And they are actively, dismissively resistant to calls for historical accuracy, cause and effect, contemporary realities or even simple truths, especially if conflicting with German or Euro-American perspective. I designate “Euro-American” primarily because just American suggests white American, whether its white Americans or Germans saying it. Here, if they know you are from America and you’re black, you’re just black, but they’ll also say black German, black American, and so on, but whites from the USA are just American. That should tell you something…if you’re honest.
In the intro image, a week long children’s workshop about Brazil is taking place in Berlin, which doubtless (unlike smaller towns) will have actual Brazilian people involved to “demonstrate” Brazilian “rituals”. The programme was created and written by the well meaning but Euro-heavy Labyrinth team, to provide free entertainment for children, particularly refugees. If they are so open-minded why are not minority educators on the team, as there are many well educated ethnic professionals across Berlin. Wouldn’t fit the paradigm?
There’s a strong component of “silencing” or speaking for POC, when white people take it upon themselves to speak and decide for others, in particular minorities, with little or no input from those minorities. It’s a form of patting themselves on the backs and receiving praise from European peers on how good and progressive they are, being the saviors for poor (predominantly POC), without understanding why this model is deeply problematic and smacks of what called “The White Savior” syndrome. Historical context, power dynamics, objectification and racist structures.
Mexican restaurants are supposed to have Mexican music playing, immediately recognizable “Mexican” music, and stereotypical Mexican persons speaking Spanish (a European language, while the country itself has over 60 indigenous languages being spoken, more than all of Europe!). Black Americans should be called “Bro!”, know hip-hop and rap music references and offered “fist bumps” so they can feel cool and hip when they are returned. Eastern Asians, be they Korean, Japanese or Chinese, should be agreeable at all times, rather shy and apologetic, naivé but intelligent. That’s allowed, it’s non-threatening.
Asians might be mentally allowed to be engineers, even doctors, while Mexicans should likely be working at restaurants, central or South Americans must always funny and cheerful, and Native Americans are dancers in western theme parks or visiting for a show. Even if you wear a business suit, if you’re African, you may be a drug dealer. Higher education? Why would minorities do that? It’s not like you’ll get anywhere in German society besides working strictly in a capacity where your ethnicity is why you are there in the first place.
Managers, police officers, working in social services or on company boards or even playing them on TV or in film? Highly unlikely. Comments like “but you’re (supply ethnicity)” abound, which is the incredulous sometimes confused equivalent of “No”, when they don’t want to actually say “no” because of what that would strongly indicate about their self, their company or society. If you give any criticism they will blow a “How dare you?!” gasket.
Above all, whatever you are as non-Germans, you should be ready and willing to supply whatever emotional boost they need, satisfy and answer their every query, while being careful to self-deprecatingly keep them in their comfort zone (no challenges or return questions!) while they lay layer after layer of stereotypes on you. Or alternatively (or strategically interspersed) they know all about you because they read it in a book or so-and-so has a ______friend, and they will argue until doomsday they are right because_________.
So their children learn objectification, stereotypes, and attitudes and behaviors that can lead to cultural appropriation and dehumanization, and which continue the cycle of imbalance of racism, power and perception. It all starts in childhood.
So why do minorities stay in Germany, with the widespread “them vs. others, normal vs. others” mentality? What is the appeal, the attraction, the thrill? For those I talked to, it isn’t because Europe or Europeans are so great. It is often more attributable to the communities of color that form in support and protection of each other, a response to being stereotyped, misrepresented and discriminated against so widely in society. In the case of Natives or other POC, you receive it in your “home” country, too, because white people there are immigrant/invaders living on stolen ground. Where can you ever be treated equally, respectfully, humanly?