Essay On Native American Film

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For hundreds of years, stories have been passed on from one person to another through the oral tradition and the visual arts. In our society today, film is the dominant form of storytelling. Films shape and inform our opinions of the world. Many people’s only source of information is from films. This can be harmful when the information is false or misguided. Like the representation of Native American’s in film. In early western films, Native American characters were not played by Natives but rather white actors. This gave a false image of what Native Americans looked like. Additionally, they were portrayed as unintelligent savages. Since then, Native Americans have reclaimed their identity because of increased accessibility to filmmaking and the creation of programs like the Native American Initiative by Sundance Film Institute.
Early on in cinema, Native Americans were portrayed as unintelligent, bloodthirsty, savages who were always in conflict with white people. In the 1950 film, Winchester ‘73, Rock Hudson played
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Momoa is part Samoan and part Caucasian. The film follows Robert Wolf, played by Momoa, who is a Native American on the run after killing the man who murdered and raped his mother. The film illustrates a problematic issue Native Americans living on reservations face. Native American reservations have their own law enforcement; however, they do not have jurisdiction off of the reservation. Consequently, outsiders will commit crimes as grave as rape and murder on the reservation, but then leave. The native police force struggles for cooperation from outside law enforcement because they do not have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators. These films, along with many others, are milestones for native cinema as they are giving agency back to the people whose stories are being
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