Notes — Colonization



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Many filmmakers start within dominant documentary companies in order to get a foothold in the industry. Later they either stay and become largely autonomous filmmakers within such companies, an example being Alanis Obomsawin as respected staff-director in the NFB, or they move on in order to become engaged in self-controlled projects as Loretta Todd and Gil Cardinal did. Some filmmakers avoid mainstream companies altogether and start their own small independent companies. Examples include Victor Masayesva (IS-Productions), Shelley Niro (Turtle Night Productions), and Zacharias Kunuk (Igloolik Isuma Productions). Such small Indigenous film companies can also engage in collaborations with mainstream film companies, as was the case with Gil Cardinal's Kanata Productions and Doug Cuthand's Blue Hill Productions for Big Bear. Projects realized in co-production with Western filmmakers and film companies such as the Alaska Native Heritage Series (1972), The Native American Series (1974), various NFB documentaries, the mini series Big Bear (1998) and the feature Smoke Signals (1998) have the potential to overcome cultural hegemonies entrenched in the film industry because both sides desired the collaboration and usually have an equal share of decision-making power.


1 Cf Heather Norris Nicholson, "Introduction," in Screening Culture: Constructing Image and Identity, ed. Heather Norris Nicholson (Lanham MD et al.: Lexington Books, 2003): 1.

2 Elizabeth Weatherford, "Currents: Film and Video in Native America," Native Americans on Film and Video Vol. II, ed. Elizabeth Weatherford & Emelia Seubert (New York: Museum of the American Indian, 1988): 7.

3 Alanis Obomsawin is undoubtedly the pioneer of Indigenous documentary making who started in the early 1970s with the National Film Board of Canada. Her early films on cultural, social and political issues are Mothers of Many Children (1977), No Address (1988), and Incident at Restigouche (1984). She later was to direct the seminal Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993) that portrayed the Oka crisis from an Indigenous perspective and provided historical background that the Canadian media coverage largely lacked.

4 On the formation of colonial discourse cf Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multicuturalism and the Media (1994; London & New York: Routledge, 1997): 55--99.

5 Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multicuturalism and the Media (1994; London & New York: Routledge, 1997): 2--3.

6 About ethnographic filmmaking and its criticism cf Tomothy Asch, "Ethnographic Film Production," Film Comment 7.1 (1971): 40--42; Timothy Asch, "The ethics of ethnographic film-making," in Film as Ethnography, ed. Peter Ian Crawford & David Turton (Manchester & New York: Manchester UP, 1992): 196--204; Eva Hohenberger, Die Wirklichkeit des Films: Dokumentarfilm, Ethnografischer Film (Hildesheim, Zurich & New York: Olms Verlag, 1988); Karl--Heinz Kohl, "Abwehr und Verlangen: Der Eurozentrismus in der Ethnologie," Berliner Hefte 12 (1979): 28--42; Kathleen Kuehnast, "Visual Imperialism and the Export of Prejudice: an Exploration of Ethnographic Film," in Film as Ethnography, ed. Peter Ian Crawford & David Turton (Manchester & New York: Manchester UP, 1992): 183--95; David MacDougall, "Ethnographic Film: Failure and Promise," Annual Review of Anthropology 7 (1978): 405--25; Bob Scholte, "Toward a Reflexive and Critical Anthropology," in Reinventing Anthropology, ed. Dell Hymes (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972): 430--57; and Ellen Strain, "Exotic Bodies, Distant Landscapes: Touristic Viewing and Popularized Anthropology in the Nineteenth Century," Wide Angle 18.2 (April 1996): 70--100.

7 James Clifford, "Introduction: Partial Truths," in Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, ed. James Clifford & George E. Marcus (Berkeley CA et al.: U of California P, 1986): 7.

8 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London & New York: Routledge, 1994): 68.

9 Foucault, in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, introduces the concept of 'surveillance' within a society and describes it with the help of the Panopticon prison model (Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975; Surveiller et punir: La naissance de la prison New York: Vintage, 1979)).

10 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London & New York: Routledge, 1994), 76; emphasis in original.

11 Ibid.: 66.

12 Hans Herbert Kögler, Michel Foucault Sammlung Metzler Bd. 281. Realien zur Philosophie. (Stuttgart & Weimar: J.B. Metzler, 1994): 122.

13 Michel Foucault, Die Ordnung der Dinge: Eine Archäologie der Humanwissenschaften (1966; Les Mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1993): 377.

14 Martin Jay, "In the Empire of the Gaze: Foucault and the Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-century French Thought," in Michel Foucault: Critical Assessments, ed. Barry Smart Vol. 1 (New York & London: Routledge, 1994): 213.

15 Himani Bannerji, "Returning the Gaze: An Introduction," in Returning the Gaze: Essays on Racism, Feminism and Politics, ed. Himani Bannerji (Toronto ON: Sister Vision Press, 1993): xxii.

16 Ibid.: xxii--xxiii.

17 Edward Said, "Foucault and the Imagination of Power," in Foucault: A Critical Reader, ed. David Couzens Hoy (Oxford & New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986): 153.

18 I work with Hayward's definition of the concept of classical narrative cinema which she equates with Hollywood cinema. Her definition consists of several points: cinematic style serves to explain, and not to obscure; the narrative is presented as reality; this filmic 'reality' is ideologically charged; cause and effect move the narrative along; the narrative achieves closure at the end; the narrative is psychologically, and therefore individually, motivated; the representation of the successful completion of the Oedipal trajectory is central; spatial and temporal continuity are paramount; cinematic techniques, such as shots, lighting, colour, editing, sound, and mise-en-scene, must not draw attention to themselves but manufacture realism [an illusionist reality] narrative and characters are goal-oriented; continuity is essential; the natural effect achieved through three-point-lighting supports the naturalness of the filmic realism; and sound serves to reinforce meaning, such as danger, romance etc (Susan Hayward, Key Concepts in Cinema Studies (London & New York: Routledge, 1996): 45--49). Cf also David Bordwell, "Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narrational Principles and Procedures," in Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader, ed. Philip Rosen (New York: Columbia UP, 1986): 17--34.

19 On the presentation of Indigenous people in Western media, including narrative and ethnographic films cf Gretchen Bataille & Charles L.P. Silet, "The Entertaining Anachronism: Indians in American Film," in The Kaleidoscopic Lens: How Hollywood Views Ethnic Groups, ed. Randall M. Miller (n.p.: Jerome S. Ozer, 1980): 36--53; Ward Churchill, "Smoke Signals: A History of Native Americans in Cinema," LiP Magazine (1998): http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revichurchill_35_p.htm; Ward Churchill, "Fantasies of the Master Race. The Cinematic Colonization of American Indians," in Ward Churchill, Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indians (San Francisco CA: City Lights Books, 1998): 167--224; Daniel Francis, The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture (Vancouver BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992); Philip French, "The Indian in the Western Movie," Art in America 60 (July, August 1972): 32--39; Ralph Friar & Natasha Friar, The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel (New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1972); Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (Lincoln NE: U of Nebraska P, 1999); Hartmut Lutz, "Indianer" und "Native Americans": Zur sozial- und literarhistorischen Vermittlung eines Stereotyps (Hildesheim, Zurich & New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1985); Hartmut Lutz, "'Indians' and Native Americans in the Movies: A History of Stereotypes, Distortions, and Displacements," Visual Anthropology 3 (1990): 31--48; Rosalind C. Morris, New Worlds from Fragments: Film, Ethnography, and the Representation of Northwest Coast Culture (Boulder CO et al.: Westview Press, 1994); John E. O'Connor, The Hollywood Indian: Stereotypes of Native Americans in Films (Trenton NJ: New Jersey State Museum, 1980); Louis Owens, Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place (Norman OK: U of Oklahoma P, 1998): 99-131; Hans--Peter Rodenberg, Der imaginierte Indianer: Zur Dynamik von Kulturkonflikt und Vergesellschaftung des Fremden (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1994); Peter C. Rollins & John E. O'Connor, ed. Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film (Lexington KY: The UP of Kentucky, 2003); Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001); Fatimah Tobing Rony, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Durham NC & London: Duke UP, 1996); and Elizabeth Weatherford, ed. Native Americans on Film and Video (New York: Museum of the American Indian, 1981).

20 Ralph Friar & Natasha Friar, The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel (New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1972): 178.

21 Robert F. Berkhofer, The White Man's Indian (New York: Vintage Books, 1978): 3--22.

22 Ibid.: 19--20, 27--28.

23 Hartmut Lutz, "Indianer" und "Native Americans": Zur sozial- und literarhistorischen Vermittlung eines Stereotyps (Hildesheim, Zurich & New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1985): 3.

24 Ibid.: 9.

25 Ibid.: 131.

26 Robert F. Berkhofer, The White Man's Indian (New York: Vintage Books, 1978): 10.

27 Gesa Mackenthun, Metaphors of Dispossession: American Beginnings and the Translation of Empire 1492--1637 (Norman OK & London: U of Oklahoma P, 1997): 62.

28 Ibid.

29 Robert F. Berkhofer, The White Man's Indian (New York: Vintage Books, 1978): 30.

30 Exceptions to this thesis are the polarized presentation of the Sioux and Pawnee in Dances With Wolves (1990) and of the Mohicans and Hurons in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).

31 On the creation and operation of stereotypes cf further Homi Bhabha, "The Other Question: Difference, Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism," in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, ed. Russel Ferguson et al. (New York & Cambridge MA: New Museum of Contemporary Art & The MIT Press, 1990): 85; Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London & New York: Routledge, 1994): 79; Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (Lincoln NE: U of Nebraska P, 1999): 1ff.; and Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multicuturalism and the Media (1994; London & New York: Routledge, 1997): 178--219.

32 Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, "Introduction," in Jacquelyn Kilpatrick Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (Lincoln NE: U of Nebraska P, 1999): xvii.

33 Ibid.: xvii--xviii.

34 Jennifer David, Aboriginal Language Broadcasting in Canada: An overview and recommendations to the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. Debwe Communications Inc., (26 November 2004): 9 at http://www.aptn.ca.

35 Robert F. Berkhofer, The White Man's Indian (New York: Vintage Books, 1978): 71.

36 Amanda J. Cobb, "This Is What It Means to Say Smoke Signals: Native American Cultural Sovereignty," in Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film, ed. Peter C. Rollins & John E. O'Connor (Lexington KY: The UP of Kentucky, 2003): 217.

37 Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multicuturalism and the Media (1994; London & New York: Routledge, 1997): 279.

38 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London & New York: Routledge, 1994): 67.

39 Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multicuturalism and the Media (1994; London & New York: Routledge, 1997): 249.

40 Paul Henley, "Fly in the Soup," London Review of Books (21 June 2001): 35.

41 In order to pinpoint the subject/object relation in ethnographic films, the French ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch reversed the ethnographic scheme in one of his films. In Chronicle of a Summer (1960), he has a Black man examined the habits and body characteristics of the 'Parisian Tribe' (Paul Henley, "Fly in the Soup," London Review of Books (21 June 2001): 36).

42 Amy Lynn Corbin, Native American Narrative and Experimental Film: Aesthetics of Activism and Resistance BA Thesis with Honors (Williamsburg VA: College of William & Mary, 1997, unpublished): 7.

43 Richard M. Barsam, Nonfiction Film: A Critical History (Bloomington & Indianapolis IN: Indiana UP, 1992): 45.

44 The term 'neo-ethnographic films' is employed because, although there is a raised awareness about Indigenous cultural, political, and economic issues, the colonial subject/object relation has not changed with the production of videos/programs with Indigenous content by non-Indigenous filmmakers. Cf also Todd who holds that contemporary mainstream documentaries with Indigenous content still have an ethnographic tone and seem to scrutinize Indigenous cultures (Loretta Todd (1998 unpublished interview)).

45 Ward Churchill, "Smoke Signals: A History of Native Americans in Cinema," LiP Magazine (1998): 1 at http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revichurchill_35_p.htm; Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 15--16. The sources do not specify whether these are documentary or feature productions.

46 Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 16.

47 Ward Churchill, "Smoke Signals: A History of Native Americans in Cinema," LiP Magazine (1998): 1--2 at http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revichurchill_35_p.htm.

48 Cf the discussion of the project in a footnote in chapter 4.3.2.

49 This information was provided in a personal conversation with Victor Masayesva, Jr.

50 In some of these examples, there are still non-Indigenous individuals involved in the production process. Nevertheless, production control remained with the Indigenous filmmakers and the films are not made in cooperation with non-Indigenous production companies so that they do not belong the fourth group.

51 Kerstin Knopf, Aboriginal Women and Film in Canada MA Thesis (Greifswald: U of Greifswald, 1996, unpublished): 118.

52 Some filmmakers, such as Marjorie Beaucage and Victor Masayesva avoid mainstream film companies and create documentaries independently.

53 Cf the interviews with Gil Cardinal (1998), Doug Cuthand (1998), Lloyd Martell (1996 and 1998), and Rodger Ross (1996 and 1998), all unpublished.

54 Bailey qtd. in Sarita Malik, "Beyond 'The Cinema of Duty'? The Pleasures of Hybridity: Black British Film of the 1980s and 1990s," in Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema, ed. Andrew Higson (London & New York: Cassell, 1996): 204.

55 Steven Leuthold, 'Telling Our Own Story': The Aesthetic Expression of Collective Identity in Native American Documentary (AnnArbor MI: UMI, 1992): 145, 153, repr. as Steven Leuthold Indigenous Aesthetics: Native Art, Media and Identity (Austin TX: U of Texas P, 1998).

56 Ibid.: 153.

57 Cf Rodger Ross (1996, unpublished interview).

58 Elizabeth Weatherford, "The Public Eye, Native Media-Making: A Growing Potential," Native Americas: Akwe:kon's Journal of Indigenous Issues (Spring 1996): 56.

59 Sarita Malik, "Beyond 'The Cinema of Duty'? The Pleasures of Hybridity: Black British Film of the 1980s and 1990s," in Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema, ed. Andrew Higson (London & New York: Cassell, 1996): 206.

60 Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 92. The Mashantucket Pequots in Washington receive nearly a half-billion US dollar annual revenues from their casino and have begun to support and invest in Indigenous filmmaking (Ward Churchill, "Smoke Signals: A History of Native Americans in Cinema," LiP Magazine (1998): 5 at http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revichurchill_35_p.htm).

61 Cf schedule of the Taos Talking Picture Festival -- Native Cinema Showcase (2002) at http://www.ttpix.org/native_copy.html and VOX of Dartmouth (5 November 2001): 8.

62 In the field of postcolonial media, a clear distinction between documentary and fictional films/videos cannot always be made, since many filmmakers create mixed forms outside Western genres and avail themselves of the form of the docu-drama, which, as the term suggests, mixes fact and fiction often by re-enacting historical/contemporary events.

63 Kerstin Knopf, Aboriginal Women and Film in Canada MA Thesis (Greifswald: U of Greifswald, 1996, unpublished): 7--8. Cf also Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 9 and unpublished interviews with Marjorie Beaucage (1998), Lloyd Martell (1996 and 1998), Debra Piapot (1996), Evelyn Poitras (1998), and Rodger Ross (1996 and 1998).

64 Kerstin Knopf, Aboriginal Women and Film in Canada MA Thesis (Greifswald: U of Greifswald, 1996, unpublished): 10. Cf also interview with Rodger Ross (1996 unpublished).

65 Elizabeth Weatherford, "Currents: Film and Video in Native America," Native Americans on Film and Video Vol. II, ed. Elizabeth Weatherford & Emelia Seubert (New York: Museum of the American Indian, 1988): 7.

66 Kerstin Knopf, Aboriginal Women and Film in Canada MA Thesis (Greifswald: U of Greifswald, 1996, unpublished): 15. Cf also Rodger Ross (1998 unpublished interview).

67 Katherine Monk, "First Takes: Our Home and Native Land," in Katherine Monk Weird Sex and Snowshoes and Other Canadian Film Phenomena (Vancouver CA: Raincoast Books, 2001): 49.

68 Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 40.

69 Jennifer David, Aboriginal Language Broadcasting in Canada: An overview and recommendations to the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures, Debwe Communications Inc. (26 November 2004): 10 at http://www.aptn.ca.

70 Knopf, "Geschichte filmen: die Perspektive kanadischer indigener Filmemacher(innen)," Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien 19. Jg. Nr.1 Bd.35 (1999): 181.

71 Ibid. On the development of television broadcasting in the Canadian North cf John Greyson and Lisa Steele, "The Inukshuk Project/Inuit TV: The Satellite Solution," in Video re/View: The (best) Source for Critical Writings on Canadian Artists' Video, ed. Peggy Gale & Lisa Steele (Toronto ON: Art Metropole & Vtape, 1996): 57--63 and Lorna Roth "Television Broadcasting North of 60," Images of Canadianness: Visions on Canada's Politics, Culture, Economics, ed. Leen d'Haenens (Ottawa ON: U of Ottawa P, 1998): 148--66.

72 Whiteduck Resources Inc. and Consilium, Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP) & Northern Distribution Program (NDP) Evaluation: Final Report, 29 at http://www.aptn.ca.

73 APTN webpage at http://www.aptn.ca; Personal conversation with Kent Brown, Human Resources Director with APTN in September 2004. For a an account of the development of Indigenous film and televisionmaking in Canada cf Lorna Roth, "The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) -- Going National," in Lorna Roth Something New in the Air: The Story of First Peoples Television Broadcasting in Canada (Montreal PQ & Kingston ON: McGill-Queen's UP, 2005): 201--18 and Kerstin Knopf, Aboriginal Women and Film in Canada MA Thesis (Greifswald: U of Greifswald, 1996, unpublished): 6--28. For an overview of the development of Indigenous film and televisionmaking in the United States, including the founding of several institutions and the creation of specific programs by various TV-broadcasters cf Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 33--44.

74 Steven Leuthold, 'Telling Our Own Story': The Aesthetic Expression of Collective Identity in Native American Documentary (AnnArbor MI: UMI, 1992): 148, 151, repr. as Steven Leuthold Indigenous Aesthetics: Native Art, Media and Identity (Austin TX: U of Texas P, 1998); Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 39. Cf discussion on NAPT's funding policy earlier in this chapter.

75 Cf Beverly Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (Minneapolis MN: U of Minnesota P, 2001): 42--43.

76 Loretta Todd, dir./writ., Through the Lens: Changing Voices, prod. Gretchen Jordan Basto & Fumik Kiyooka, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (Canada 1998): 60 min.

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