Indigenous Women Theme Week
Check out all of the posts from our Indigenous Women theme week here.
Looking at ‘Lilo & Stitch’ can provide a valuable lens in which to analyze the upcoming ‘Moana,’ as well as other mainstream films attempting to represent Indigenous cultures. … Regardless of its individual merits, ‘Lilo & Stitch’ is a moneymaking endeavor to benefit the Disney Company, which has not always had the best relationship (to say the least) with representing Indigenous cultures or respecting Indigenous peoples.
By forcing the subconscious fears of audiences to the surface, horror cinema evokes reactions psychologically and physically — that is its power. This power can serve and support uncensored Indigenous expression by allowing Indigenous filmmakers the opportunity to unleash dark, unsanitized allegorical representations of the abhorrent, repugnant, violent abomination that is colonization.
Even less surprising is their casting choice, where they have once again whitewashed a Native American character, hiring Rooney Mara to play the part of Tiger Lily. Apparently, most Hollywood executives and casting directors live in a fictional land called Neverlearn. … There has been a long standing Hollywood cliche that states, the only color Hollywood executives see is green. This excuses the industry from their role in helping maintain white supremacist patriarchy…
In ‘Pocahontas,’ Disney missed an important opportunity to represent Indigenous women in a relatable, empowering way, and instead focused on commodifying their culture for mass-market appeal. … Pocahontas’ life only became a story worth telling when a white man became involved. She only became a princess when a white man recognized her as royalty. She only became the center of a Disney movie because white men realized they could profit off of her myth.
‘Kumu Hina’: Documentary on a Native Hawaiian Māhū (Transgender) Woman and Teaching the True Meaning of Aloha
‘Kumu Hina’ is a portrait of one activist working to preserve Native rights, culture, and dignity in a time when Native Sovereignty is being made more visible by events like the efforts of Water Protectors to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu draws a direct and explicit link between honoring her māhū identity and helping her people preserve their culture. Like the māhū of generations past, Wong-Kalu has taken on the responsibility of sharing sacred knowledge with the next generation. She wants to share with her students the true meaning of aloha which, to her, means giving them unconditional acceptance and respect.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller became the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985 after working with volunteers from the small rural community of Bell, Oklahoma to bring water to the town. ‘The Cherokee Word for Water’ is the story of this extraordinary woman and leader whose activism on behalf of her community continues to resonate across the Cherokee Nation today.
Director Robert Flaherty not only framed Inuit womanhood according to his fantasies of casual sensuality, but according to Euro-American patriarchal fantasy. His portrait of Inuit life is neatly divided between the woman’s role, limited to cleaning igloos and nursing infants, apparently immune to the frustrations of Euro-American women in that role, and the man’s role, leading the band, educating older children, and hunting.
One female-helmed film that directly addresses the horrific psychological, cultural, and spiritual legacy of Native boarding schools on Indigenous families in the United States is ‘Older Than America,’ a 2008 release, directed and produced by and starring Georgina Lightning, from a script by Lightning and Christine Kunewa Walker. … Rain’s journey is part of the collective story of her community and her tribe…
Whatever the other problems might be with this film (and they are many), my focus for this review is the character Tiger Lily, who was originally conceived as a racist stereotype by J.M. Barrie and who has had her Native identity completely erased in this latest iteration. Is this progress? I think not.
Frida Kahlo’s sense of kyriarchy, in which the tension between Indigenous culture and European imperialism is a core aspect of her multi-faceted narratives of oppression and resistance, is simplified in Julie Taymor’s film ‘Frida’ towards a more Euro-American feminism, focused on Kahlo’s struggle for artistic recognition and romantic fulfillment as a woman, to the exclusion of her ethnic struggle.
In the endless web of conundrums that Native peoples face, marginalization is a result of societal erasure, whether that be through stereotypes or the lack of representations all together. … With that in consideration, I seek to influence popular consciousness by analysis of horror through a Native woman’s lens. One endeavor of asserting Native presence is through my analysis of the Native thriller film, ‘Imprint.’