Reel Injun

(Documentary, Best of 2009) Permanent link

Today my morning coffee was served to me by a non-Native American wearing a headband with feathers. Some employees at this coffee shop even donned headdresses, while others wore bandanas around their necks and western-style plaid shirts. I can't say I was surprised, as culturally insensitive Halloween costumes have grown inexplicably popular, or at least become much more visible due to the Internet, in the last few years. So popular that a group of students at Ohio University have created two campaigns raising awareness about the issue.

This incident was all the more poignant, and timely, because I recently watched Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, a 2009 documentary that traces portrayals of Native Americans in Hollywood films, from the silent era to the present, and explores the ways those portrayals shape non-Natives' understanding of Native culture and history. The film features interviews with actors, directors, and American Indian activists, including Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell, and Russell Means. Some of the films discussed include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dances WithWolves, Flags of Our Fathers, Smoke Signals, and The Fast Runner, all of which are available at KPL.

This documentary is entertaining, informative, and breaks down common assumptions and stereotypes. Those feather headdresses? They're worn for ceremonial purposes, and only by American Indians of the Great Plains region.


Reel Injun


Posted by Angela Fortin at 10/31/2012 01:55:30 PM | 

Great post, Angela! Thanks for bringing this film to our attention.
Posted by: Christine H. ( Email ) at 11/26/2012 3:44 PM

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