| Spring 2009 |
In this animation about Native American issues, the assignment was to create a unique character who would deliver a monologue. Technically, I focused heavily on modeling the human face and lip-synching process.
Every now and then I am impressed with the thinking of the non-Indian. Last year I got to talking with a non-Indian about American history. He said that he was really sorry about what had happened to Indians, but that there was good reasons for it. The continent had to be developed and he felt that Indians had stood in the way and thus had to be removed. “After all,” he remarked, “what did you do with the land when you had it?” I didn’t understand him until later when I discovered that the Cuyahoga River running through Cleveland is inflammable. So many combustible pollutants are dumped into the river that the inhabitants have to take special precautions to avoid accidentally setting it on fire. After reviewing the argument of my non-Indian friend, I decided that he was probably correct. How many Indians could have thought of creating an inflammable river?
— Vine Deloria Jr. (Nakota Sioux), “We Talk, You Listen” (1972)
Voice-over provided by Dakota Schreiner (Lakota Sioux).
This animated character monologue touches on several topics: Native American mascot controversy, environmental issues, U.S. history and alternate history.
The last part of the animation is a viewpoint of an alternate history in which the Native Americans were never reduced to a minority and eventually gained independence like other former European colonies. In this alternate history, Natives have restored and dignified their heritage, including original place-names and forgotten heroes.
The mock mascot character has a "war paint" made of European ships and pickaxes of gold rush. The barb wire shaped stitches around the mouth symbolize the Indian reservations, and the mascot face is covered in smallpox blisters.
Black Hills mountain range is seen in the background. Black Hills are sacred to Plains Indians and were bitterly contested during the wars against the U.S. government.
Sitting Bull, Tatanka Iyotake (18311890, Lakota Sioux) is a historical figure, one of the most important chiefs in the Native American history, an archetype of Native resistance. In fact, there is no monument to Sitting Bull in front of the U.S. Capitol. Instead, there is a monument to Ulysses S. Grant, a U.S. president that violated the Treaty of Fort Laramie and seized the Black Hills from the Plain Indians, including Sitting Bull. In the alternate history, Sitting Bull could have replaced Grant as an imporant hero in the nation's capital.
Tohoga was the name of the Native American village, upon which British established a trade post that eventually grew into the present-day Washington, DC.
Turtle Island is the English translation of many Native American tribes' terms for the continent of North America. The term is proposed as a synonym or substitute for North America.