Indigenous Representations in Assassin’s Creed III
By Beth Aileen Dillon
Ubisoft does still occasionally get iffy, like the Clan Mother who gets too close to the “Mystic Savage” trope in her shamanistic powers and tone. However, given the Assassin’s Creed series’ science fiction time traveling storyline, the elder’s knowledge of the “portal” adds an element to the growing recognition of Indigenous science fiction.
The game generally has an anti-colonialist tone. Kaniehti:io rightfully doesn’t trust Haytham. Even the non-player characters question their role, such as a British soldier who comments about the expedition: “Slap a fancy name on something and all is excused.” Interestingly, the game is mindful of (what to the Anishinaabe is known as) Weendigo nature of the colonizers—Weendigo being a spirit of endless consumption that can enter someone prone to that way of being and mount to cannibal nature. As a youth, Connor predicts of westward expansion: “In time they will swallow us whole.” Haytham, being self-reflective, states, “We’re cruel and desperate creatures, set in our conquering ways” and acknowledges his own “desire for more, and more, and more.” Kaniehti:io worries about the “same dark hunger” being passed down in her son.
Overall, the game balances the bloodiness necessary for a game about assassination with Indigenous ways of knowing, such as when Connor points out when hunting, “We must return nature’s kindness with our own.”
Props to Ubisoft and Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace for these strides.