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SAG-AFTRA panel explores new opportunities for Native Americans – Deadline

Native American-themed movies and TV shows have been on the rise recently – Ava DuVernay and Bird Runningwater are developing a drama series for NBC about the struggles and triumphs of an Indigenous family – but Hollywood still has a long way to go to include the Amerindians in its intrigues.

During today’s SAG-AFTRA roundtable on Recreating Native Americans in the Media, Hollywood was urged to tell more stories about Native Americans as a modern people than they are, not just as mementos of the bygone days of cowboys and Indians – and to give Native Americans a place in the table to tell their own stories.

“We feel like we’re invisible,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, Founder and CEO of IllumiNative, a nonprofit initiative designed to raise the profile of Indigenous nations and peoples. “And if we’re invited into the room, we’re usually the only native person in the room. And in interactions in the world, we are constantly reduced to being a caricature, a stereotype.

SAG-AFTRA panelists say “disability is consistently overlooked in conversations about diversity and inclusion”

View all of today’s Stop the Hate sign discussions here.

Research conducted by his organization found that “one of the greatest threats to Indigenous peoples is our invisibility and self-effacement, which is perpetuated by large systems, such as K-12 education, in which 90% of schools do not teach Native Americans. 1900 past. So, generation after generation, Americans are literally conditioned to think that we belong to an ancient past and that we do not exist today.

“But Hollywood, media entertainment and pop culture are the main culprits. Our representation on television and in the cinema fluctuates between zero and 0.4%. And the little representation that emerges is either before 1900 or in the form of toxic stories that feed these tropes about the savages or the mystical and magical Indians. And with native women, if they show up at all, they’re often brutalized and often don’t even live until the end of the series.

“What we’ve found,” she said, “is that invisibility, plus these toxic stereotypes, feeds racism; they feed prejudices. And these have concrete consequences against our people that are manifested in the way our people are treated in courts and in Congress; the way our children are treated every day in the classrooms and the plague of murdered and missing Indigenous people in this country.

“What our research has told us is how important representation is. And it’s not just a question of on-screen representation; it matters what is behind the camera; it matters who gets elected to the office. It’s really about representation at all levels of society. This is how we will not only dismantle this invisibility and toxic stereotypes, but also advance fairness and justice for our people.

“I’ve really seen such an explosion of native content lately,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson, producer of Molly from Denali and member of the SAG-AFTRA Native American Committee. “There has been so much good work on the part of the content creators.” She also spoke of the “positive effects of retrieving Indigenous truth; to be able to have this narrative sovereignty and to inform what our image looks like. “

“It’s exciting. There is definitely a rise,” Echo Hawk agreed. “But there are a few key points as we think about it. There have been Indigenous people fighting for our representation in entertainment and the media for decades and decades … It is unfortunate that it took the murder of George Floyd and the start of an account with systemic racism that now opens, finally, an opportunity for this narrative sovereignty for the Indigenous peoples can really, really write stories. It’s so exciting. There is a definite increase. But it has taken a while to come, and there is a lot of work to be done, because these numbers on TV and on the Internet. movies literally haven’t budged at all, so hopefully with all the good things to come in 2021 and beyond, we’re going to start to see changes, not just in what we see on TV and in the world. cinema, but what happens behind re the camera, as well. “

“We continue to commit and re-commit to making systemic change, because it’s systemic,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s the justice system or the education system, and to create a common understanding of our stories, because so many people have no idea of ​​the history of Indigenous people in this country.

“When we’re looking to tackle systemic racism,” said Echo Hawk, “there’s such an opportunity for Hollywood, which creates 80% of global content and shapes the way people think about the world and communities – there is has such a deep responsibility, in is this powerful moment, in this calculation, to call on people, to really take advantage of this introspective moment to understand the power and the opportunity that exists to be a force for good in dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism. And to tell stories that reflect our diverse and ever-changing society, in which Indigenous peoples play an important role. We are always here; we thrive; we have wonderful stories to tell.

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