Who’s Who at the Olympics

God knows, there are plenty of reasons to take issue with the Vancouver Games, some of them alluded to here.

What’s got me in a squirmy place goes back to the opening ceremonies.  Particularly the part featuring the aboriginal dancers.

2010 Olympic opening ceremoniesNow, I love the dancers.  And I’m mesmerized by the drum.  But when I saw all those people, I wondered to what extent the performance reproduced the stereotypes spoken of by filmmaker Neil Diamond in his new documentary Reel Injun.

It’s all there.  Feathers.  Face paint.  Moccasins.  And yup, it’s a special occasion, so that explains the celebratory presentation.  But it also feeds the stereotype.

You know the one.

Noble savage.  Shaman.   He-who-walks-quietly-and-quite-possibly-dances-with-wolves.

Some of that is true.  But where does it leave the contemporary native man?   Are such occasions simply a way of continuing the saga of the Wild West shows of days gone by?  Do they inform or do they mislead?

I’m not saying, stop dancing.  I’m saying, the expected depiction of native people as artifacts who exist outside the realm of the contemporary world may carry its own baggage. George Leach (Sta’atl’imx Nation, BC)

The way I see it, a large part of the struggle we all face is trying to exist between two worlds.  Not giving up tradition.  Taking our place in the twitter world.  Maybe they’re not incompatible.  But I wonder about the effect of contributing to the stereotype.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.