February 03, 2014

Keres spoken in Coke commercial

Coca-Cola's controversial Super Bowl ad made good use of a Native language:

Coca-Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl Ad Causes StirMoving on to more historic points of fact: English is of course a foreign language to this country. When the first European explorers arrived here there was not just one Native American language—another common misconception—but hundreds spoken.

Many of those languages have survived and one was represented in the Coca-Cola ad. As Darrell Dodi Robertson pointed out when Deadspin posted its story, titled “Dumb People Mad at Multi-Lingual ‘America the Beautiful’ Coca-Cola Ad,” to Facebook, “My wife speaks Navajo. And they weren't even included in the commercial.”

Languages featured in the Coca-Cola ad were English, Spanish, Tagalog, Hebrew, Hindi, Keres, and Senegalese-French.

Keres is a language spoken by the Pueblo people and is also known as Keresan. The language is spoken by nearly 11,000 people in the American Southwest today.
Santo Domingo teen appears in debate-stirring Super Bowl ad

By Uriel J. GarciaOn Twitter, the hashtag #SpeakAmerican started trending through Sunday and Monday.

But others defended the commercial, saying it represents the country’s various cultures and diverse languages.

“Unless you’re speaking Sioux, Cherokee, Navajo, or any other Native American language there is no such thing as #SpeakAmerican,” a user with the Twitter handle @MsTriniSpyce wrote.

Bird agreed with supporters of the commercial saying that the U.S. is diverse, and the company was only trying to portray a positive image of the country.

“I was overwhelmed by everyone talking negative so quickly,” she said. “I was disappointed and hurt because America isn’t just English-speaking. There’s a lot of cultures out there.”

Bird, who wants to be an actor, said a former teacher at the Santa Fe Indian School emailed her about Coca-Cola’s casting call in Santa Fe for a Super Bowl ad. After going through two rounds of auditions, she was called late last year to appear in the commercial, which is her first, she said.
Coca-Cola--It's Beautiful in KeresMeet Christy and hear her sing "America the Beautiful" in Keres, one of the many languages in Coca-Cola's 2014 Big Game ad. #AmericaIsBeautiful

"Speak American"

It's pretty easy to rip the colonizers' insistence that we "speak American." For instance:

My view on the Coca Cola commercial

By Dana Lone HillSure only one of our over 500 languages made it on the Coca Cola commercial. But this land had hundreds of nations and languages before 1492. In all of the Americas, there were thousands. The landing on immigrants here was the beginning of the American holocaust. Native people of this land were killed for land, for gold, etc. This attempted genocide continued for over half a century and never ended. In the late 1800s, Native children were taken from their homes and put in military like residential schools from the age of 4 to 18. Often taken away from parents in handcuffs and not allowed to communicate with parents. Many times children died while at these schools, they were abused physically, sexually, and mentally. They were beaten until they spoke only English.

See, there were many beautiful languages on this land before English was ever even spoken here. These children who were beaten for speaking their own language were our grandparents and great grandparents. Today, there are many language revitalization programs on reservations, starting with immersion daycare. It is a beautiful thing to see a 4-year-old more fluent than her parents. With hope, hard work, and determination our languages will come back after they tried to beat it out of our ancestors for so many years.

Many times people who think so narrow minded, that English should be the only language here, often forget this is not “Their America,” instead it is the land that we belong to. So when I see so many people angry over the fact that there are other languages in this country, I smile. When I see people rant over the fact that their city has 5 versions of one phone book, I know how they feel. See, these people forgot that they are not original to this land, we are. And I know how they feel, because the same anger they have for there being so many languages in America is the same anger I have for our languages almost dying off. And I am tempted to tell them the three words every Native American hates to hear:

“Get over it.”
When you move to a new land, you learn the language, said the settlers who obliterated every culture and language they came in contact with. Thanks for the tip, hypocrites.

Yep, it's pretty damn stupid to insist on speaking "American" when there's no such language. When the only languages that can claim to be authentically American are Navajo, Lakota, Cherokee, and other Native tongues.

America the gay

Finally, it's ironic that conservative racists focused on the languages. The video featured what looked like two gay men with their children. They got more airtime than anyone else. If anything in the ad was a statement, that was.

It's especially ironic considering who wrote America the Beautiful:

Smart woman! Ninety years ago, she anticipated the GOP's decline and fall. She guessed the party would fail because of its bigotry and intolerance, and that's what's happening now.

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