January 28, 2013

Native values in Assassin's Creed 3

An analysis goes deeper into Assassin's Creed 3's Native history and culture than previous postings have done:

Indigenous Representations in Assassin’s Creed III

By Beth Aileen DillonFeminine Strength: Kaniehti:io (Connor’s Kanien’kehá:ka mother) is an intelligent, suspicious, and tactical woman who helps to free enslaved “Natives,” arranges alliances across Indigenous nations, and saves the life of Haytham Kenway (by being totally badass and strong herself).

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.
Comment:  For more on Assassin's Creed 3, see Assassin's Creed 3's Mohawk Advisers and Noah Watts as Mohawk Assassin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is, in the end...


Connor only makes everything worse. The Templars want a peaceful resolution to the American Revolution, and preserve Indian sovereignty, but instead, Connor prevents that. Genocide ensues, and slavery continues for another 90 years whereas a court rulling had already made slavery illegal in Britain, and slavery would be abolished in the United Kingdom in 1834.

Oh, and in the long term, the Assassins are just pawns for an ancient god to awaken and destroy all civilization in 2012.