By Tom Phillips
"I felt like I was 130 years back in time watching what the Lakota Sioux might have been saying at a point when they were being pushed and they were being killed and they were being asked to displace and they were being given some form of compensation," he said. "This was a driving force for me in the writing of Avatar–I couldn't help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation… because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society–which is what is happening now–they would have fought a lot harder."
Ugh. So hear that Natives? We should have just fought harder, and the state of our Native nations would be different. Right.
James Cameron will never get another cent of my money. Sorry SOB. Proud to be Lakota!
I will never see another of his movies. Just don't like him in general. Did not see Avatar.
On the other hand, many people do think Indian reservations are hopeless, dead-end places. So Cameron may have meant what he said.
Nor do I think anyone has ever accused the Lakota of being soft on resistance. Considering they fought on until they were massacred at Wounded Knee, I don't see how anyone could've expected them to do more.
On the other hand, maybe Cameron was seduced by his moviemaking. Maybe he really thinks his Na'vi offer a lesson for indigenous people. Something like, "If you're as smart and brave as my fictional warriors were, you too could win against the forces of imperialism."
Never mind that the Na'vi probably should've lost against the Terran military--even with the help of Jake the white savior. It was a fluke that Jake encountered and was able to tame the giant Toruk, giving him the clout to unite the tribes. That Trudy turned her gunship against Quaritch's ship. And that the Pandoran wildlife joined the battle at just the right moment.
I think it's obvious what Cameron wanted to say: that the traditional Lakota would be unhappy if they saw their people today. I think he chose his words poorly; he stupidly used a phrase that sounded like blaming the victim. But I don't think he meant what people inferred.
For more on the subject, see Brainstorming Avatar 2 with Indians and Dam Suspended with Cameron's Help.
Below: "James Cameron talks to a Xingu leader in Brazil." (Atossa Soldani/EPA)