February 16, 2007

No harm in Peter Pan?

A comment from a correspondent:The "Indians" in Neverland were meant to be fantasy Indians. Realism, was never the intention from the get go. As a huge fan of Peter Pan in many of the stories' incarnations, I never found the Indians offensive. In the most recent live action film a couple of years ago, Tiger Lily and her kin were given the most dignified and respectful treatment ever.Isn't that what people say whenever Natives criticize their fictional Indians? E.g., Pocahontas, the Zagar commercials, Apocalypto, sports mascots. "These Indians weren't intended to be 'real,' so your criticism doesn't apply. We made them stereotypical intentionally because we have the right to exploit Indians however we want for our own selfish purposes."

Yes, the recent Peter Pan movie handled the Indians well. Which only goes to prove that Barrie didn't need to make his Indians "redskins" and "savages" to tell his story. He stereotyped them because he was ignorant about them--because that's what people did back then.

See Tiger Lily in Peter Pan:  An Allegory of Anglo-Indian Relations for more on the subject.

3 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Boy, is writerfella ever glad that he helped influence legislation that prevented The Native American Freedom of Religion Act from being re-empowered! There were those who intended to make legal cases for Native tribes to be the sole owners and proprietors of their cultures and existences, so that ONLY those tribes could use the tribal names or histories or cultures in non-fiction works or fictional works such as novels, television, or motion pictures. That was the plan back in 1993 by some flimflam group of Native filmmakers calling itself the Native American Producers Guild. writerfella encountered them at a Native film festival held at a university in Minneapolis. And that also was when he discovered that their group only sought Native producers or directors to be among their membership, completely leaving Native writers out of the mix. It is one thing to demand accuracy in Native depictions and quite another to be able to say that these cannot be done at all. Whatever one's position may be on the subject, writerfella holds that there is no one who should be able to tell him what he can write and what he cannot write, within the bounds of community standards.
Plus, the Native woman who headed the NAPG back then happened to be one of those types who should be compelled to play the theme from JAWS whenever they are present...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I'm not sure which Freedom of Religion Act you're talking about, since there are several with similar names. Here's a brief history of them:

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Amendment%20to%20the%20American%20Indian%20Religious%20Freedom%20Act

In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), in which it stated that it was policy to "protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions...including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites." The act was later found to be "judicially unenforceable" since it had no provisions for enforcement. It was referred to as a mere "policy statement."

Another act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), gave federal backing of religious rights to Indians (and others). Additionally, it introduced a "compelling interest" test, stating that the government could not restrict religious practices unless it could show compelling interest to do so. It also gave the right to seek judicial proceedings in the case the person felt those religious rights were violated.

Later, the RFRA was ruled unconstitutional, as it gave religious groups more protection than individuals or non-religious groups or individuals (a violation the establishment clause). It also was seen as a matter of state's rights, in that the act interfered which the states' ability to enforce their laws.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Somewhere, writerfella has archived the NAPG literature and prospectus that he got when he briefly (VERY briefly!) joined back in 1993. It only mentions the 'Native American Freedom of Religion Act' without quoting it or citing a year or documentation. Explicit in the group's listed plans were lawsuits that would begin the groundwork to make Native cultures, languages, and even the tribal names as 'intellectual property' of the various tribes.
In the above, writerfella should emend his statement to be that he 'helped influence a court decision' concerning the RFRA, which if it had stood, would have restored power to the "NAFRA" for those very lawsuits....
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'