Imagining the Indian trailer: A new documentary tackling the racist nature of native mascoting

Confederate statues and flags are coming down, companies are being called out and institutions are being challenged about their practices and procedures. The fight to end racial inequality and to create a fairer world will be determined on much more than symbolic changes, but this feels like a moment that could lead towards some sort of change - as long as those who have recently joined the struggle can maintain the same energy and not treat this as a mere 'moment' to be forgotten.

It is also just as important that indigenous people in America are listened to as closely as Black people given the genocide that took place after the arrival of Europeans at the end of the 15th century. Their calls for justice and reparations have continued to be overlooked while the devastation of their land and culture has been ignored in almost every regard. That can start with the simple removal of the many racist symbols and mascots still found at almost every level of American society today.

Yesterday, FedEx, sponsors of the Washington Redskins stadium to the tune of $205 million, asked the owners to consider changing a team name doused in years of racism. Money talks and the owners today agreed to the review. The news arrives at a time when a documentary due for release next year, Imaging the Indian, looks at the ongoing use of indigenous mascoting and connects the centuries' old dehumanisation of indigenous people of the Americas to the racism being protested on American streets today.

Directed by Aviva Kempner and Ben West, the film will include interviews with author and activist Suzan Shown Harjo, Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressman Jamie Raskin, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Director Kevin Gover, NMAI Founder and Autry Museum CEO Rick West, and USA Today columnist Christine Brennan.

Imagining the Indian is currently in production at The Ciesla Foundation and a 17-minute work-in-progress will be screened exclusively at film festivals until the film is completed in 2021. You can find out more information about the film's topics and aims on its website.


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