Naturally I don't agree that casting issues are unimportant, Kalisetsi. Casting is one of the many areas where Natives are fighting for better access and representation today. Funding and distributing NDN-made movies to the mainstream is still a dream, but casting decisions are affecting public perceptions now.
Here's a relevant comment (slightly edited) from Natives Outraged Over Twilight:
That is what is being done here. On top of that, the director, production company and casting directors are breaking SAG union regulations with their actions in casting and attempted casting thus far, lying outright about people's ancestral backgrounds for roles (disgusting).
Kalisetsi, your position is like saying Natives shouldn't worry about being represented in the Obama administration or budget. They should worry only about getting their own governments in order. I.e., they should worry only about themselves and not about external forces over which they have little control.
In reality, most tribes are worried about both federal legislation and spending and their own governmental processes. It's not one or the other and it doesn't have to be.
The most important issues
A few more thoughts on why the casting issue is worth covering:
1) If it isn't obvious, casting issues are a subset of stereotype issues. I explain why stereotype issues are important constantly--for instance, in Identifying Indians with Stereotypes.
2) As with Indian mascots vs. genocide in Tibet or Darfur, I claim we don't have to focus solely on one issue or the other. We can multitask and deal with many issues at once.
3) Natives have protested their portrayals in movies for decades. Hollywood responded with more realistic portrayals in the 1960s and '70s. So activism has led to exactly kind of change you deem impossible.
4) I think I've made my support for independent filmmaking clear. In addition to my recent articles on Crusoe and non-Natives cast as Natives, I've written articles on Native film festivals, The Exiles, and the Creative Spirit competition for Indian Country Today.
5) Let me reiterate that ICT essentially solicited my article on non-Native casting. If this Indian-owned newspaper thinks the subject is important, who am I to disagree? <g>
6) I've also posted a lot on such DIY (do-it-yourself) efforts as Mile Post 398, March Point, and the Red Nation Film Festival. If anyone thinks I'm neglecting NDN-made movies...well, sorry, I don't see it.
7) Readers, especially newer ones, may think I've focused too much attention on Twilight. But popular movies are in the theaters, and thus in the news, for several months. My coverage reflects that. Longtime readers know I posted a ton of commentaries on movies such as Apocalypto, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when they were "hot." Now they're old news and I don't mention them much anymore.
In short, the only "bias" here is that I consider movies an important force in the popular culture. If everyone's talking about casting decisions such as those in Twilight, I'm gonna talk about them too. If Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, or Watchmen presented Native issues, I'd be all over them as well.
Anyway, if you think I've neglected a valid topic, e-mail me. Better yet, write about it yourself. I'm open to ideas.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.