The ignorance of this is staggering, this is what he said “Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations—or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them—schools on the reservations. And they’re free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way—that early way of life. And we’ve done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us.”
One of the greatest people to grace this earth, Nelson Mandela is again ill and may not be around us for much longer. It’s brought up a lot of the emotions I feel for this man. When I was at school I would have to say the biggest issue I learnt there was the attosity of the then ongoing apartheid system in South Africa. It repulsed me to the core. No other global issue at that time caught my imagination as discrimination is certainly one of our most foolish (and tragically, often deadly traits).
I recall vividly the day Mandela was released from jail in part because I saw it when I stopped by to see my ex. gf (who was the first love of my life) and it is the last time I saw her. To imagine that day how quickly apartheid would be cast into the sewer of history that it belonged in would have seemed like an impossibility. To imagine after that that the oppressed majority would not seek considerable revenge for decades of abuse was also barely comprehensible.
Mandela made those things happen. But not just that, he did so as a humble man and with a grace and dignity that is incomparable to that of any other Statesman of the modern age. What a glorious slap in the face to those Apartheid white supremacist racists to think that the most loved and respected leader in the world would be theirs and he was black.
Unlike most leaders of change and revolution, once he served his term, he left. He was no egomaniac leader for life. Though ironically no one else could come close.
What he did with the rugby World Cup is also monumental and I’ve attached a clip below that wonderfully explains how he used it to bring both sides of the previous conflict together. This is what truly great people do. They don’t beat their enemies. They make them better humans.
I had an acquaintance from South Africa years ago who spoke about Mandela’s amazing presence when he visited a school she attended and the impact it had on her. When I knew her she studied and Oxford in the UK. A few years later I googled her and discovered she headed up an educational division of Mandela’s own foundation. Beautiful.
That era in South Africa also gave us the monumental Bishop Desmond Tutu who I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of years ago.
I have personally known some great civil rights leaders but what these two men had that others don’t is they could walk across the room to their enemies, give them the warmest of handshakes and literally watch the walls between them dissolve and thus create positive change. I can think of few historical figures who deserve to be taught with the same weight as lives such as these.
Few people make seismic change in the world and fewer make it positive change. What an inspiration.
As a mark of thanks while he is still with us and ill I posted the image attached below to my profile pic on facebook and twitter and hope others might do the same. Lovely to see some have followed suit. Please encourage others to do the same. It would be great to create a movement out of it to show how much he is appreciated and loved throughout the world. You can just right click on the image and then save image as to your computer then just upload it to your profile pic.
Hi I just got this interesting comment to a posting that I felt I wanted to share the reply with you all to dispell a regular misconception about film production in Indian Country. The comment was:
“Are any of the royalities going to the Pine Ridge Rez? Or are they going to get took like they did with Dances with wolves, getting paid chump change; $200.00 a person to appear while the movie made millions with more Chump Change in royalities! These people need to be treated with respect, and treated like human beings! They need money to feed and clothe themselves! They went for months with no heat in the middle of winter and nobody helped! They were caught up with the Federal Goverment’s crap and got no help from them. When will this change?”
And I replied as follows:
You know I agree with your passion an sentiment about people ignoring the plight of Pine Ridge and the poverty but overall your question angered me for a very simple reason and that is It cost me personally many thousands of dollars to make the film on Pine Ridge. It was originally meant to be shot in Britain but I personally chose to shoot it on Pine Ridge because I wanted to bring economic development. In a film sense it was not practical as there are not experienced actors or crew there but my commitment to Pine Ridge brought it there. I’ve spent three years of my life on it and may never see my investment back and certainly not enough to justify my time.
Skins spent vastly more about $4 million and a reasonable amount in the area and most of that was lost. Imprint will likely lose money though not so much was shot there. Thunderheart may have broken even but only after millions were put at risk. As with Dances with Wolves, tens of millions were put at risk in a film no-one in Hollywood would invest in, the money came from England, yes it was very successful but it extras were on $200 a day then that’s a good wage for a day on that job. Films never share profits with people that were extras, it would never and could never work. Too expensive to administer etc so if the film is bringing in vast $’s into the local communities through production and since 95% of films loose money and never have royalties to pay out then why should they be obligated unlike any other business to pay those that worked on the films twice?
The other problem is that if you want a different recoupment structure for films in Indian country then investors and studios will find yet another pathetic excuse not to set films in those areas. With Rez Bomb I only took in three actors and three crew and hired everyone else locally and that is different to any other comparable reservation movie. Everyone was paid equally whether one of my very experienced stars from Hollywood or someone doing a day role from Pine Ridge who had never acted a day in their lives. They actually made more as no agents fees, SAG fees, or taxes will be taken off.
Also with Rez Bomb I did something unique which was to tell a truly universal story on a reservation not a culturally specific one that could only be set there. I want to expend beyond just the culturally specific, to break down the cultural apartheid in film and change the way people look at the possibilities of storytelling. See my other blogs on Cultural Apartheid and also my Q&A with Russell Means where he spoke of his pride in being in a universal story set on a reservation where he plays a person not a stereotype.
We are trying to fight double standards when it comes to race and culture and it would be a double standard to treat the actors in my film of one color,culture,race different than another.
But as I said at the top of the message I appreciate your passion and concern for justice for those on the reservation. I’ve also spent part of the last 10 years creating an epic feature documentary about Pine Ridge, financed by myself (and I don’t have the money to spare) and I will never break even on it.
I just read this article and the appallingly naive hateful comments below and had to respond. I’m not a fan of religion but the attacks on Islam are so hate filled that if they were against a race or sex we’d be fighting harder against it.
Town Removes Nativity after Muslims Complain
By Christine Bouthillier, QMI Agency
MONTREAL – A posh Montreal suburb has decided to remove a nativity scene and menorah from town hall rather than acquiesce to demands from a Muslim group to erect Islamic religious symbols.
The decision by the Town of Mount Royal upsets a Christian resident who says the town is abandoning an established tradition under pressure from a tiny religious minority.
Town councillors of several different religions unanimously decided to remove the Christian and Jewish items.
Interesting how most of those making comments clearly didn’t pay much attention to the article as the Muslims were not asking anything to be taken down just to participate. There was a Menorah there as well as the nativity and of course I’d assume you’d all do a little research before commenting but Jewish people in Montreal are a smaller minority than Muslims and of course Muslims would not ask for the nativity to be taken down when they worship Jesus, unlike those that follow Judaism. The council are the ones exhibiting prejudice by not allowing these three members of the same religious family to participate together. The comments here prove the degree of hate and prejudice and ignorance that the Muslim population have to face daily. Pity the freedom of religion and freedom from religion that is enshrined in the US constitution is given so little regard by those posting here.
Joanne Tall in this clip is one of the amazing contributors to my feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience
It is interesting today watching Obama give a dignified speech at a concentration camp that it made me think of the range of prejudices in the world and about how we focus or certain ones beyond others. One person being interviewed was an American GI detained by the Nazi’s who was Jewish. Thankfully Jews in the US military were not persecuted to any great degree (though some other races were by the US military) but it made me think that of the many groups of people persecuted and killed in the Holocaust, Gypsies, disabled, homosexuals, conscientious objectors, millions of Poles, Jews, this list sadly goes on, that of that list Homosexuals were also persecuted by the military of the allies and to this day are still persecuted legally in many of our communities, just look at prop 8 here in California.
I once had a room-mate who was gay and responded when looking at part of my documentary about the American Indians by saying off hand, “nobody has had it worse than the gays” now I was struck by the statement as it grabbed me part of a persecution complex that he had. But it did make me think. Of all the things people were treated badly over, or persecuted, or massacred over etc being gay is one that many countries (eg: the UK till the late sixties) where you could be sent to jail just for being who you are.
Gay rights must always be at the heart of our Civil Rights policy as equality means equality.
The sad death of actor David Carradine has reminded me of the story about how he because a major star in his most iconic role in smash hit 70’s TV series Kung Fu. The series was in fact developed for Bruce Lee and considering it’s content that makes complete sense but the studio would not cast an Asian even though it was an Asian role so they came up with the crazy premise where a Caucasian child studied in the Shaolin Temple. Carradine did not even know martial arts hence why the fight scenes were all shot in slow motion.
Can you imagine how sensational that show would have been with the greatest on screen martial artist we have ever seen? Ironically Bruce Lee smashed down that racial barrier as in the two subsequent years he became the biggest star in all of Asia and through Enter the Dragon was getting offers as big as anyone in Hollywood at the time of his death. I argue that he turned around a racial barrier in film quicker than any actor in Hollywood history.
You know when it comes to the history of racism in America the more I hear the more it blows my mind and the more it disgusts me how little people discuss the breadth of it beyond the black and white thing.
Within that is how little people know about the racism towards the Chinese. The fact the for 65 years they were the only race banned from emigrating to the USA. The fact that people enacted massacres on groups of them without being sent to jail the list goes on and on. The fact that half of the women in Chinatown in San Francisco were prostitutes in part because men unless merchants were banned from bringing their wives into the country. Read early versions of the constitution of California and much is detailed in black and white. It is a great tribute to the strength of Chinese identity and culture that their is not a great scar evident today in the community drawn from this combined experience. Many of these laws were in place till 1943 and only changed then because of the second world war and China being allies.
Also until the early sixties there was legislation in Los Angeles that prevented certain races living in most areas, this was to enforce segregation though this mostly affected the black community.
I won’t get started about the treatment of the American Indian as I’ll be here all day.
I had a little gathering of a few friends in LA a few years back. About 14 people and I was the only one in the room who would have been given a fair deal in this country a hundred years before. It was a mix of women, non-white, gay, Irish and one white guy who was of a working class background. So much for the American myth.
Thoughts about the new feature film from the films maker Steven Lewis Simpson