October 31, 2015

Native Voodoo in Gilligan's Island

I've been watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. Given the oft-mentioned Native islanders, it's had several indigenous-themed episodes.

I didn't recall any Native American content, but I was wondering if such content would show up. The answer is yes...in the Voodoo episode.

Season 3, Episode 5
Voodoo (10 Oct. 1966)A witch doctor wreaks havoc on the castaways after he steals a personal item from each of them and then creates voodoo dolls that bear their likenesses.My comments on this episode:

Mesoamerican archaeology revolutionized on ‪#‎GilligansIsland‬! Gilligan finds artifacts in a cave, including a vase that's a "classical example of early Mayan worksmanship."

So the Maya were a seafaring race that reached the Hawaiian islands? Incredible!

The castaways find gold jewelry encrusted with gems, too! Priceless!

Unfortunately, the artifacts are accompanied by a "witch doctor" who practices "voodoo." Even though the Professor says there's no such thing within a thousand miles.

In keeping with the Mayan claim, the witch doctor is played by Eddie Little Sky.Eddie Little Sky was born on August 15, 1926 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, USA. He is known for his work on A Man Called Horse (1970), Paint Your Wagon (1969) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). He was married to Dawn Little Sky. He died on September 5, 1997 in Pennington, South Dakota.

With the Mayan objects and the Native American actor, there's a pretty clear implication that Mesoamerican religion and culture were equivalent to black magic aka "voodoo."

The episode ends with the castaways returning the artifacts they've taken and Gilligan finding the voodoo dolls. So there's still a Native American "witch doctor" on the loose? Let's hope he's satisfied with the return of his ancestors' items!

In the 1960s, Mayan Indians were driving cars, watching TV, and going to college like everyone else. So this portrayal of a "witch doctor" practicing "voodoo" is horribly wrong. It wasn't true in the classical Maya period and it's certainly not true a thousand years later.

But the episode isn't a total failure. It does identify Mexico as the closest Native American site. And give it a point for using a Native actor to play a Native character. Even if he is a witch doctor.

For more on the subject, see Mohawk Astronaut in Gilligan's Island..

No comments: