June 12, 2011

Red Corn testifies at Senate hearing

US Senate Committee holds controversial hearing on UN Indigenous Declaration

By Brenda NorrellAn excellent video proclaiming that Geronimo was not killed in Pakistan was shown during the hearing. Referring to the code-name Geronimo used during the Osama bin Laden attack, the film included faces from throughout Indian country, including Ponca Casey Camp, Navajos and others. It was produced by filmmaker Ryan Red Corn, Osage from Oklahoma, and Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

During his testimony, Red Corn described how Indian women are being pressured to become sterilized. Describing land jurisdictions and crime which makes lives difficult, Red Corn said he wants to live during an era of human rights. He also described how film and media are increasingly beneficial to American Indians.

Red Corn offered hope for implementation of the Declaration. "I would like to see teeth put into it, so I can feel the effects of it at home."

Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, chair of the Senate Committee, began the hearing, with a reference to Red Corn’s film “Smiling Indians" and discussed images which portray Indigenous Peoples. “As Native people it is important to tell our own stories." He spoke of Indigenous rights and “holding ourselves and the world accountable.”

Comment:  I reported on the Smiling Indians video before. The Geronimo video is a follow-up of sorts. It uses the same model of Indians looking into the camera to convey their humanity.

I'm not sure the speakers at the hearing said anything new. Anything that thousands of activists haven't said many times. What's interesting to me here is how Red Corn got to this place. He produced a couple of videos...they were talked about and shared throughout Indian country...and suddenly he's invited to speak before the Senate. It's a powerful testimony to the power of new media.

For more on the subject, see Curtis Photos vs. Smiling Indians and "Geronimo" Codename Story Goes International.

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