The battle to remove Native American names and imagery from mascots and logos has been a longstanding fight and the Ciesla Foundation is producing a new documentary film titled, “Imagining the Indian” that captures the activism around that movement while also educating viewers on its history.
“I went to public school through the 9th grade and I never learned a single thing that made me proud of my ancestors,” Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, says in the trailer. But with the current racial and political unrest that led to the Washington, D.C.’s NFL team finally agreeing to retire its racist name on July 13, the timing of the film is even more apropos.
Directed by Aviva Kempner and Southern Cheyenne filmmaker Ben West, “Imagining the Indian” explores the origin and marketing of the words, images and gestures that many find offensive and explores how stereotyping and the marginalization of Native history have impacted real people. The filmmakers also collaborated with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Tribal Council in California, who stepped in as the film’s lead executive producer.
With Christopher Columbus statues coming down and Land O’Lakes’ promising to remove a Native American woman from its packaging, advocates are putting all companies and sports teams on notice that the time for change is belated—but now. As W. Richard West, Jr. (Southern Cheyenne) says in the trailer, “The original sin occurred the minute Europe touched Native shores in North America and South America.”