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Why Don’t We See Native Representation in Film?

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 10: - Yalitza Aparicio attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Alfonso Cuaron's

Like a life ago I saw it Yalitza Aparicio will appear as “Cleo” in director Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 film Rome. Even if the film is critically recognized and hailed as a true look at the life of a Native helper in a wealthy Mexican household, to dispel the media whirlwind is also my hope that it can make a changing the portrayal of Hollywood and likening the Natives.

When Rome released, the response to Aparicio’s praise directly infuriating. It is most disappointing to look at the long-covered racism and sexism that is already revealing itself in the Latin media. Several outlets and stars have been caught blaspheming words about Aparicio’s race, success, and nomination. A viral video caught the telenovela actor Sergio Goyri making nasty statements about Aparicio. That is also documented a group of Mexican actresses lobbied to exclude Aparicio from the Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Science (AMACC), which they equivalent to the Oscars. Most tracked and acted like this with a lot of misunderstanding – yes right. Surprisingly, the Mexican media confirmed what the film was criticizing: the racism, sexism, and discrimination that Indigenous women still face.

Going into 2021, we still don’t see Aparicio appearing in yet another main role in the film even if he is nominated for best actor at the 2019 Oscars. but He recently appeared in a Huluween horror short film, Hijas De Brujas by Mexican director Faride Schroeder. I’m excited to see it, but after all the buzz, why is this the first time we’ve seen him on screen since 2018? And what does it take to finally see so many Women in major films playing the lead role?

Hollywood is responsible for the racist and completely misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples that, unfortunately, still exists today. The popularity of Westerners and the “cowboys and Indians,” as well as the Manifest Destiny troops, who accompanied them greatly affected the non-Indigenous public’s perception of what Indigenous peoples really wanted. In Latin Media, Natives are often portrayed as simple but noble servants or criminals. To this day, La India Maria is still the most memorable and enduring representation of a Latin American Native.

I think one of the misconceptions is that Indigenous people are not here, in the US, Canada, or Latin America. But that is not true. It’s just that the media pretends they don’t. There are literally 50 million people who identify as Indigenous as a part of 500 different ethnic groups across Latin America. There is now 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. And we know that there is no one different representation when it comes to different cultures and languages. The natives are also not a monolith. Let us also not forget that the people of America are separated by the lines devised by the colonizers – the borders are unreasonable.

Over the past few years, Indigenous cultural diversity has received more and more revenue thanks to platforms like TikTok. In fact, # LumadTikTok expands and acquires their own narratives and individual cultures. One of my favorites is the Inuk Mother-daughter duo China and Caroline Novalinga, who revives the lost art of singing in the throat and teaching their viewers at the same time. There is also Tia Wood of Creek Nation bringing attention to issues affecting indigenous communities, and Navajo (Diné) Nation hoop dancer Partick Willie.

Recently the new FX series Reservation Dogs we provide insight into the more misunderstood misconceptions of Native teens living on a rural Oklahoma reservation. But in terms of primary representation, there is still a serious lack of Indigenous stories that are unpretentious stereotypes or white-centered films for white audiences. In the past, most blockbusters about Natives were centered on white men. Dances With Balloons and The End of the Mohicans. But where are the stories that center on Indigenous experiences, on the people who actually live them?

One of the biggest myths when calling for representation and justice is that there is “lack of talent.” We hear this from people in power every time they want to justify the continuation of others and not be included. However, this category is not true. There are many filmmakers and artists who create their own projects. But not many get the funding and attention they deserve.

Kimbery Bautista is the Executive Director & Founder of Justice for My Master Brother. He created the Black, Native, people of color SciFi screenwriting lab to focus on silent voices and help emerging filmmakers with color and gender -based violence survivors in training, backgrounds and mentorship to make their first film. He believes what is really needed is equity and more Lumads and POCs with executive roles.

“I think a lot of representation of Indigenous people in mainstream film and TV is possible with a lot of BIPOC in executive positions.”

“I think a lot of Lumad representation in mainstream film and TV is possible with a lot of BIPOC in executive positions,” Bautista told POPSUGAR Latina. “There are a number of established pipeline institutions in the area, paving the way for amazing talent. The Sundance Film Festival has a strong Indigenous filmmaker initiative, and Bird Runningwater has led that for many years. She recently moved to a new finance.Filmmaker Heather Rae Billy Luther is a great documentary and fiction filmmaker who comes from the program.

But the tide seems to be changing. On September 30, it was announced that Bird Runningwater had signed its first deal with Amazon studios. “The Indigenous community is experiencing a meaningful moment – showing our stories to an American audience – and I am excited to partner with Amazon to make this a lasting cultural change in our industry, and to serve audiences around the world, “according to Runningwater Deadline.

However, this is not the account of Latin Media and TV, or the history of racist attitudes that persist in Latin America. Things like the legacy of Casta system, anti-blackness, anti-indigeneity, and the erasure cause of hybrid ideology all the defining factors in our view and value of Indigenous stories. Nothing is easy to fix, and the barriers that exist in Latin America are definitely not the same as those in the US. But progress is imminent. As consumers it is our duty to ask for more Lumad stories and support what is already there. Yalitza’s latest is on Hulu + right now, so it’s even better to take a look!

Image Source: Getty Images / Presley Ann

What Does It Take to See Multiple Indigenous Representations on the Big Screen?
originally posted by POPSUGAR Latina

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Bohan Shmidt
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