Monday, May 23, 2022

Blockbuster television series ‘Yellowstone’ casts Native American casting, debates spirituality

Native Americans have long been misrepresented in film and television. successful television series yellowstone, which recently concluded its fourth season on the Paramount+ network, promises to be “an authentic depiction of native life in America”.

Some Native Americans say the show didn’t go far enough in its mission, while others say it went too far.

Casting drew criticism

Yellowstone is a modern western drama. Created by Taylor Sheridan and starring Kevin Costner, the series focuses at length on how ranchers, Native Americans, energy companies, environmentalists, bureaucrats and developers maintain, reclaim, use, or abuse land and its resources. are ready to go.

Actors Gil Birmingham (R) and Mo Brings lightly in the “Vision Quest” scene of the Paramount+ hit television series, “Yellowstone”.

Sheridan is best known in Native Communities for her 2017 film Wind River, which drew attention to the disappearance and murder of Indigenous women.

He is also known for hiring Native American actors to play the original roles. In 2017 he told the new York Times He instructed casting directors to always “examine the authentic nature of their ancestors.”

yellowstone Featuring two famous original actors: Gil Birmingham, of Comanche descent, plays Thomas Rainwater, the Harvard-educated president of the fictional “Broken Rock” tribe that aims to buy back the ancestral land now owned by wealthy Montana rancher John Dutton. by Kevin Costner.

Mo Brings plays aide-de-camp and spiritual advisor to Plenty Rainwater.

But most Native Americans aren’t happy with Kelsey Asbill being cast as a Native woman married to the Dutton clan.

Kelsey Asbil Chow poses for a portrait to promote the film, "wind river", at the Sangeet Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

Kelsey Asbil Chow poses for a portrait to promote the film “Wind River” at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

Esbil, who had previously used his Chinese father’s surname Chow, worked with Sheridan. wind river, playing the role of a young native woman found dead in the snow, she told Times, she was “in (his) blood”, as she descended from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina (ECBI).

The ECBI later denied that claim in a letter published by BuzzFeed.

‘Yellowstone’ a ‘step back’

Hollywood has a long history of hiring non-native actors in country roles, but the 1990 Costner film Dance with Wolves was a game-changer, starring dozens of Native American actors in Canada, including Six Nations Oneida member Graham Greene. it was done; Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oate and Wes Studi, Cherokee K.

Since then, filmmakers have increased the original presence in films, such as Opponent And Evil spirit, and TV shows, such as rutherford falls And Reservation dogs.

But there is scope for improvement. The University of California, Los Angeles 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report showed Native representation in films to be less than 1% and on TV to be “virtually non-existent”.

Theater release poster for a 1954 western film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Lancaster as the Chiricahua Apache warrior Masai.

Theater release poster for a 1954 western film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Lancaster as the Chiricahua Apache warrior Masai.

Citizen Craig Falcon of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana starred and served as a cultural consultant for the 2015 film Evil spirit,

he is disappointed yellowstone, it’s called “one step back”.

“We have a huge full-bodied Native population here, but casting people and film directors are not tapping into that population,” Falcon told VOA. “We’re back where we started, back in the days of Iron Eyes Kodi, where you rent to non-natives and put them on braided wigs.”

He refers to a 1970s “Keep America Beautiful” public awareness ad depicting a traditional American Indian paddling a canoe through polluted modern waterways. As it turned out, the actor who played the role had forged his original lineage.

Commercialization of the sacred?

Some natives say that mistakes are less in miscasting yellowstone,

In a recently aired episode, Dutton’s son Kayce, husband of Asabil’s character Monica, tells Chief Rainwater and Moe that he is being chased by a lone wolf.

Moe, played by Moe Brings Plenty (L), picks up a bison skull during a sight search ceremony for Kays Dutton, played by actor Luke Grimes, in Season 4, Episode 9 of the Paramount+ series. "yellowstone"

Moe, played by Moe Brings Plenty (L), picks up a bison skull during a vision search ceremony for Kays Dutton, played by actor Luke Grimes, in Season 4, Episode 9 of the Paramount+ series “Yellowstone”.

They explain that it is his spirit animal and guide him through the “sight quest.” Alone on the top of a hill, Kayas must live for four days without food or water in the hope that he will understand his “purpose in life”.

Philimon Wanbly is the executive director of the Sikangu Lakota Treaty Council on the Numpa Rosebud Reservation, which works to emphasize tribal treaty rights and advocates for a return to traditional government and spirituality.

He told the VOA he was shocked of yellowstone Portrait of Hanbalesia, or “cry for a vision”, one of the Seven Sacred Ceremonies that the Lakota have practiced for centuries.

“Hanblesia is a rite of passage for our young warriors,” he said. “Or when one of our relatives becomes ill, someone worthy will go up the hill to pray for their healing.”

Wannabli Numpa said the ceremony involved “entering the spirit world”. “It’s definitely not made for cameras.”

“Whoever authorized this would need to be addressed in front of our pharmaceutical personnel,” he said.

He and Falcon also take exception to exploring the idea of ​​a non-native.

Members of the Sikangu Lakota tribe waiting for monthly beef rations, Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota, c.  1893

Members of the Sikangu Lakota tribe waiting for monthly beef rations, Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota, c. 1893

The issue turned into old wounds: in 1883, as part of its effort to destroy Native American culture and spirituality, the US government enacted a Code of Indian Crimes, which criminalized “heretical” ceremonies. was declared, punishable with withholding of food rations or imprisonment of up to 30 years. Day.”

This forced the natives to perform their ceremonies underground, where they remained even after some restrictions were lifted in the 1930s. Later, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 decriminalized the ceremony and was later amended to allow the use of peyote in religious rites.

The 1960s to 1980s saw the birth of countercultures and “New Ages” with large numbers of non-natives turning to indigenous cultures for spiritual answers, and this led to the rise of self-styled “shamans” who called a group Appropriated and marketed. In 1998 Lakota activists were billed as “unbearable and obscene imitations of sacred Lakota rites”.

It should come as no surprise that many Native Americans prefer to keep their celebrations private.

"Leonard the Crow Dog's Sight Search." 1967 photo by Richard Erdow taken on the Rosebud Reservation in SD © Yale University

“Sight Search of Leonard the Crow Dog.” 1967 photo by Richard Erdow taken on the Rosebud Reservation in SD © Yale University

proponent of knowledge sharing

VOA contacted yellowstone Cast member Mo Brings Plenty, who participated in planning the Vision Quest scene. He is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

“I’m not a spiritual advisor or anything like that, but I have great teachers,” said Brings Plenty. He named a number of spiritual leaders, including Sekangu Lakota activist/spiritual leader Leonard Crow Dogg, who helped revive Hanbalesia and other celebrations in the 1970s.

“The crow dog said these were all for humans,” said Brings Plenty. “He believed that the more non-native people understood us, the better chances we were to gain support and save ourselves from extinction.”

He said Sheridan and the crew arrived at the scene carefully.

Actor Mo brings a lot on the sets of Paramount+ blockbuster series"Yellow stone."

Actor Mo brought a lot to the sets of Paramount+’s blockbuster series “Yellowstone”.

“We knew, ‘Here’s what we can do, and here’s what we can’t,'” he said. “We haven’t given up anything. If you go to Google, you’ll find a lot more about the ceremony than we’ve revealed.”

That said, he understands why the scene touched some nerves.

“Society forced us to be ashamed of who we are and hide our identities,” he said. “It is very sad that today, some of our people are asking us to keep our identities hidden.”

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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