June 22, 2008

Indiana Jones, like Apocalypto

Killsback:  We're due for 'Indian' JonesI couldn't help but chuckle in every scene that had an Indian. Apparently the only thing Indians did was sit in caves waiting for the arrival of adventurers, and then attack them for no real apparent reason. This movie also carried with it unspoken assumptions of what non-Indian people think about indigenous people, especially "advanced" indigenous civilizations.

There are several mainstream movies that endorse an anthropologic agenda which serves to challenge indigenous people's legitimate claim as the original humans and first inhabitants of their homelands. One of the most obvious is "Apocalypto" (2007). I do not screen the film in my class. Instead, my students watch a movie with the exact same assumption: "Rapa Nui" (1994), a story about the self-destruction of Easter Island. Despite the advanced 1,000-year-old Easter Islander civilization, we are convinced that the fate of Easter Island was no different than the storyline of the 1954 book, "Lord of the Flies."

When we indigenous people view movies like "Indiana Jones," we should be offended by the core assumptions presented. What is the core assumption of "Indiana Jones"? That mainstream Americans would rather believe in the existence of aliens than the possibility that ancient indigenous people had intellect. Simply put, in the minds of mainstream Americans it is more likely that extraterrestrial beings from far-away planets "taught" indigenous people to think and build than it is that indigenous people were able to think and build for themselves.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Two matters here: in "How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth" for The Animated STAR TREK, writerfella expanded the von Danikenesque essay into a tale of one alien being visiting ALL races of mankind and teaching them to think and to build. That made the fiction fair and balanced, as the FAUX News Network is wont to say. That idea won a daytime Emmy Award.
Second, writerfella performed a film script at the University of Miami in 1982 that was performed as a student project. It was MARAUDERS OF THE LAST AARDVARK, wherein a Native adventurer named Amerigo Smith (Mandan, precurser of Nathan Bighawk in ANASAZI) battles the NZs (New Zealand) for possession of a golden Aardvark-shaped power device that survived the sinking of Atlantis. It was filmed in and around Miami and was replete with movie serial perils and escapes. Amerigo's enemy was Hillock, his girlfriend was Clarion Grackleboard, and his Arab buddy was Salteen. It was deliciously hilarious...
All Best
Russ Bates

Anonymous said...

When you say "we Indigenous people", are you actually referring to yourself as Indigenous like American Indian?

You've already stated the fact that you are not American Indian so where do you get off using language like "we Indigenous People" as though you speak for Indians?

Do you also host an African American site and make such comments as "we black people"??

Rob said...

RIP, everything indented is a quote from the article I've linked to. Indented blocks of text are a standard technique for rendering long quotations. Therefore, it was Leo Killsback (Northern Cheyenne) who referred to "we indigenous people," not Rob Schmidt (WASP).

Unknown said...

I'd just like to say, rob, your flippin' great. As a Hintil (native/Pomo), your articles and views on native issues are inspirational. Yahwi(thanx) and keep it movement.