If Only I Were an Indian
At the start of the film (which kicks off its commercial distribution with a launch at the Winnipeg Art Gallery November 10th), the sight of 150 pale, pasty Eastern Europeans--clad only in thongs, whooping and dancing around in a pastoral valley--is amusing to say the least. But director John Paskievich's sensitive handling of the situation turns it from a joke to a deeply touching tribute to aboriginal culture.
As a child, I didn't want to be an astronaut . . . but neither did I want to be a world record breaking potato sorter . . . we had no role models except from the Indians of those stories.
First, it copies only the Plains cultures, although hundreds of Indian cultures were equally spiritual. It's clear the Czechs and Slovaks don't want to be Indians, they want to be "leathers and feathers" Indians. They want to act out every phony bit they've read in a book or seen in a movie. (Their "whooping and dancing" only confirms this point.)
Second, the bit about Indians going around nearly naked, wearing only thongs, rings false. That may have happened in the humid Southeast, the Caribbean region, or the Amazon Basin...but on the northern plains? Don't think so.
Wanna be an Indian
As people have said before, why don't these wannabes emulate the Visigoths or whoever from their own past? Why don't they pick up a book other than a Karl Mays Western? Is some sort of book burning going on in the former Czechoslovakia that I don't know about?
Pick up a James Bond or Star Trek DVD if you're having trouble finding a non-Mays book. Heck, I'll send you some PEACE PARTY comics if you promise to emulate today's Pueblo Indians. You know, the ones who live in houses or condos, drive to work in cars, but still respect and honor nature.
But I'm glad to see how this writer characterized the subject of Mays's novels: "a cowboy hero who is helped by aboriginal peoples." I had a long debate with someone who claimed the books were about the Western hero's Indian sidekick. Wrong.
Meet the wannabes
Back in 2000, I debated members of the Orthodox Wannabe League. They were Russians who also felt a kinship with their one-dimensional notion of bucolic Plains Indians. If you want to see how these people stereotype Indians--how they ignore the depth and breadth of Native cultures--peruse the debates.
Sheesh. Give me a break, you Euro-wannabe crybabies. This is one case where the overused phrase "Get a life" applies.
If you want a role model, feel free to emulate me. I can appreciate the positive aspects of Native cultures without wanting to "go Native." I'm close enough to Native values in my high-tech, climate-controlled home.
Below: "I'm a naked flower child...an Indian!"