By Miranda Holguin
CEO and Founder of Native Realities Publishing Company Lee Francis spoke about the lack of accurate depictions of indigenous peoples in pop culture. The presentation, entitled “Native American Pop Culture and the Rise of the Indigenerd,” was given at the Bronco Student Center Thursday.
Francis advocated that an “indiginerd” is “anyone who lives or is interested in authentic, dynamic and engaging indigenous representation in pop culture.”
Francis started out in education as a teacher on a reservation. This is where he noticed a lack of resources to engage with K-12 Native American students, particularly in pop culture.
“The main thing that I saw that we didn’t have was Native superheroes,” said Francis.
Native Americans are misrepresented in Western popular culture or not shown at all.
“The amount of stereotypical representation of Native Americans in comic books is overwhelming,” said Francis.
To understand why these inaccurate depictions came about, Francis discussed the history of how Native Americans were depicted in pop culture and how that has affected how Native Americans are viewed.
The narrative of Native Americans changed to fit Western society’s needs throughout history.
For example, during the 1820s, a false narrative was established that the Native Americans were dying out. Francis referred to this narrative as “The Last,” as in the last of the Native American population.
This was done to justify the forced removal of Native Americans during the westward expansion, because it does not seem as negative to wipe out a population that was already dying out.
“They perpetuate these stories to justify atrocities and policies against colored people,” said Francis.
After discussing the damage that has been done for the past 400 years to the Native American image, Francis discussed what is being done now by Native Americans and Indigenous people to estabIish their own pop culture narratives.
Part of this movement is his publishing company, Native Realities. The company has signed on the first exclusively Native-centric comic book, called “Tribal Force,” and last November they established the first ever Indigenous Comic Con in New Mexico.
These types of events and comic books are created to not only provide Native Americans with heroes they can identify with, but also to teach non-Natives the reality of who Native Americans really are.
“It is important for [Native youth] to see accurate portrayals of who they are,” said Interim Coordinator of the Native American Student Center Monique Castro.
This event was hosted by the NASC and the Inter-tribal Student Leadership Council so that non-Natives and Natives could learn about the culture.
Zane Landin, a first-year science, technology and society student, came to the presentation after seeing the flier on the stakes around campus.
“It was super interesting to learn about how many people are in this culture who are trying to bring it into pop culture,” said Landin. “It’s great that they are expanding their culture to people who don’t know much about Native American culture.”
Francis closed his presentation by encouraging students in all fields to “find the thing that represents you.”
Miranda Holguin / The Poly Post
Pop culture continues Native American stereotypes
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