How did Michelle Williams end up on the cover of a magazine in redface?
They added that the concept for the shoot was to have Williams dressed as â€śimaginary characters.â€ť To quote American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in the Canadian documentary Reel Injun, â€śThat is a genocide that occurred, and the [American] culture wanted to perpetrate the idea that these people are now mythologic, you know, they donâ€™t even really exist, theyâ€™re like dinosaurs.â€ť
Adrienne Keene, whose popular blog NativeAppropriations.com brings many cases of stereotyping and appropriations to light, tackled the issue of present-day invisibility in a letter she wrote to Paul Frank after his Fashion Night Out bash last September. (The designer held a â€śDream Catchinâ€™ Pow Wowâ€ť party that featured neon tomahawks, feather headbands, bows and arrows, and signs at the bar that read â€śPow wow and have a drink now!â€ť) â€śWhen society only sees us as the images you presented, it means that our modern issues of poverty donâ€™t exist; nor do our modern efforts like schooling and economic development through sovereignty and nation building,â€ť explained Keene. â€śWe have sophisticated tribal governments and communities, but how will we be able to be seen as modern, successful people if we are continually represented through plastic tomahawks and feathers?â€ť
Her blog and others, like Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfeâ€™s Beyond Buckskin, as well as Facebook and Twitter, have given the mic to Aboriginal voices who are understandably critical of these distorted cultural representations. The #IdleNoMore hashtagâ€”the most promising social-media development to unify and mobilize Aboriginals across the countryâ€”was created to protest a number of Canadian bills that undermine environmental protection and indigenous sovereignty. Using social media, people are able to gather in city centres, malls and more. While everyone may not agree with the protests, it certainly makes it harder to forget that we coexist in cities and on reservations, that we have a modern, vibrant culture. It gives me hope that, soon, these anemic after-the-fact apologies wonâ€™t be necessary because everyone will understand that weâ€™re not extinct and weâ€™re not folkloric characters. Weâ€™re people.