Crooked Arrows: The Onondaga Nation goes Hollywood
By Sarah Moses
“I was putting my name on the line,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that the boys I brought would be proud to be apart of this project. I wanted to make sure I would be proud to have my name on it, too.”
Powless said the original script had numerous stereotypes about Native Americans because the writers wanted the script to relate to all Native Americans and not one specific nation or tribe. Some of the changes that needed to be made included the humor towards the Native American elders.
It is a tradition for Onondaga and other Haudenosaunee youth to respect their elders, but the jokes in the original script were culturally insensitive to that tradition, Powless said.
After suggesting several script revisions, Powless agreed to work on the film and 13 local Native American lacrosse players representing the Onondaga, Mohawk and Tuscarora nations set off to make the movie in Boston.
Powless declined to say what the chiefs’ last concern was, but the producers made the change. The Onondagas because a prime financial supporter of the movie.
“A lot of the leaders on the council are former lacrosse players,” said Sid Hill, the Tadodaho “We do have a rich history of lacrosse and a lot support for lacrosse. We put our faith in Neal’s hands.”
Oh, yeah...unlike some people, they know that movies shape people's perceptions. Duh.
Not only was authenticity important for aesthetic reasons, but it convinced the Onandagas to support the film financially. That's a powerful reason to make your Native films authentic.
Moral of the story: It pays not to offend Indians--literally.
For more on the subject, see Crooked Arrows Announces Lacrosse Team and Birmingham to Play Routh's Father.
Below: "Surrounded by Crooked Arrows promotional material in his office at the Native Student House at Syracuse University Neal Powless said he was first hired as a consultant for the film but wound up being a co-producer as well." (Mike Greenlar/The Post-Standard)