November 19, 2011

Indians as werewolves and spacemen

If natives can play Twilight werewolves, why not spacemen, too?

By Drew Hayden TaylorFirst of all, the natives are the werewolves, who conveniently provide a roadblock (or blockade, for cultural accuracy) for the young lovers, Edward and Bella. The werewolves want to kill the vampires, making them essentially the enemies, the black hats (or furs, as the case may be). The vampires and the werewolves are the Capulets and the Montagues from Romeo and Juliet, or the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story.

There's a particularly shocking scene in the previous movie where one of the werewolf braves hugs his girlfriend and we see she has a large gash down the side of her face–evidently due to her out-of-control boyfriend.

The same character, in full werewolf mode, later attacks our heroine Bella, who is saved at the last moment by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Ten minutes later, when they meet again, the young native man just shrugs, grins at her and says, “Sorry.” For obvious reasons, this image concerns me a little.
And:Still, in keeping with the changing face of the public aboriginal person, I have for years been trying to get an anthology off the ground–a collection of native science-fiction stories, from the best aboriginal writers in the country. But I always get the same response: “Native science fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron?”

The public believes that native people are mired in the past. It's Indians and buckskin, not natives and rocket fuel; Plains Cree and buffalo, not Haida and black holes. Other than Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager, who else can they see dreaming that impossible dream?

Yet my friends who are aboriginal writers are all excited by the idea–Joseph Boyden, Lee Maracle, Richard Van Camp, Eden Robinson, etc. I even had a brief conversation with famous U.S. Chippewa/M├ętis author Louise Erdrich several years ago about it, and she told me that she had written a science-fiction story once but was unable to sell it. The market evidently thinks that native people don't write science fiction, but we heartily disagree.
Comment:  Glad to see Taylor echoed a point I've made before: that when Twilight's werewolves oppose Edward the heroic vampire, they're essentially villains. Or at least anti-heroes. Defending their own people and attacking the bad vampires doesn't make up for interfering with Edward and Bella.

For more on the subject, see Are Good Native Werewolves Okay? and White Vampire Yes, Indian Werewolf No.

"No Natives in science fiction" seems to be Drew Hayden Taylor's pet peeve. He wrote about this in an article I posted in No Natives in Science Fiction? Alas, he was wrong then and he's still wrong. Things aren't as bad as he makes them out to be.

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