August 18, 2007

Natives are still invisible

W.B. Franklin--a study in complexityWhen asked what he saw as the most difficult part of being a full-time Native American artist, Franklin's answer was surprising.

"Invisibility," Franklin quipped. "We're still invisible. It is a matter of continually having to prove yourself. People don't want to recognize you as a "real" artist. The hardest part about being a Native American artist is that I am continually expected to prove myself.
More on the problems facing Natives:When asked did he believe that we as global citizens are at the end of the proverbial trail, Franklin answered thoughtfully.

"We are ending one trail and beginning a new one," Franklin said. "Native people are entering a different kind of Indian war. As I see it, the Indian Wars are not over. As Indian people, we are going to have to come out of the closet. We read about issues in the paper, and feel that they don't affect us, but they do."

Franklin said that one of the biggest problems facing Native Americans today is the loss of language and identity.

"The larger society is now dictating to us what we should be rather than us dictating to the world who we are," Franklin explained.

"As artists-writers, painters, songwriters-we have a certain responsibility to be true to ourselves and to our own identity and put this down as honestly as we can. Right now, a third party is dictating to us of what they want to see. I recently overheard someone's comment on one of my pieces that it wasn't 'Navajo enough.' As a Diné artist, whatever I perceive, whatever comes from my soul is still Diné."


Anonymous said...

Hey Rob~ The link doesn't seem to be working!

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
For writerfella, the link worked very well indeed. What W.B. Franklin may have meant to say is that Native identity IS NOT being lost but rather is in a state of flux and evolution. Certainly the introduction of EuroMan into the New World equation initially caused those two states of existence to come to pass. That Natives somewhat survived the onslaught means that there had to have been created both flux AND evolution. That Natives still are here MUST mean their response to such factors worked partially in their favor. Culture and identity CANNOT evolve if they remain exactly the same as the original and in fact are demanded to so remain. So, we're invisible, as writerfella truly was in his years as an active participant in films and television. But landmarks still were reached and evidence of those landmarks finally is reaching resurgence. It become both the case of how you played the game AND whether you ever played it at all...
All Best
Russ Bates