Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cowboys Westerns

As a kid I watched cowboy movies that were on tv. Guess who everyone cheered for? The power of the tv. I remember a few them but can't tell you what they are called. I remember seeing Charles Bronson in a western and he was an Indian. He fell down a cliff but didn't yell. He was stoic, a real warrior. I always thought he was an Indian, so did my relatives. I also remember Dean Martin in some cowboy movie and he was cool. The cool hat the way it tilted on his head. John Wayne movies are the movies everyone talks about. He walked funny, strange. I remember laughing at one movie as this Indian guy was walking around drunk with a bottle in his hand as the guns fired all around, him being oblivious to the action. I saw this as I was older, so my laughter was that of the portrayal of the Indian. How classic. Classic in the sense that we were (I should say, are)looked at as drunken louts, not of consequence. All this in that one scene? Yes and more. Westerns were about heroes and villains. Indians were always the villains. Even in the movies that give some more "dept" to the Indian. Jeremiah Johnson was a great movie. In this movie there were some good Indians and some bad Indians. The good Indians had some ancient rituals and customs. They gave away their daughters in exchange for gifts. In reality some Bands did have intermarriage with Traders. This gave the Band advantage in the commerce of goods. But you don't want a history lesson and there are far more qualified people out there to speak of Indian history.

Jeremiah Johnson is a good movie. Regardless of the villains. This is where I am heading with the western theme of the post. Is it uncool for Indians to like westerns? I mean I hear Indian people just call down Dances with Wolves. I really liked that movie,but now I am scared to admit I liked it. Sure I know the main character is White and has a big impact on the Indians. But it was a pretty good movie anyway.

That's the thing isn't it? We need to show that we are cool about being Indian. That means rejecting anything, anything that may seem uncool to Indians. Like westerns, or like monuments. I say this because I remember reading about how uncool it is that they ripped up the mountains in South Dakota to make some big heads of some US presidents. I guess that is uncool (but kind of cool on how art is made anywhere) on how damaging it is to the Earth and disrespectful. Even more uncool is that they are making a bigger statue out of mountain and calling it Crazy Horse. I know what's more uncool than that, there was a bar in Winnipeg and they called a room the Crazy Horse, now that is really uncool. As a matter of fact it is down right disgusting and disrespectful (but I digress). Anyway, I went to South Dakota and everything, I mean everything is Cowboy and Western. But more so Indian. It's like these folks are making a living off the old Indian image. You know from the Westerns.

I like that there are images of Indians everywhere but sometimes I wonder about it. I'm all for people making a living, but not for hypocrisy. I have read stories of all that happens to Indians in the US and South Dakota (but it happens everywhere). Indians are not treated well and the incidents of racism are prevalent. Yet these same people have no trouble exploiting the old Indian image for their benefit. Go figure?

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