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Wrong emphasis

Regarding the article, “Discovery’s ‘America’s First Nations’ sparks debate,” I played a small role in the critique of the film in question. When this project first began it was said that the story would be told from a Native point of view. For the most part, from what I could see, this did not happen.

A primary criticism, as expressed in the article, was that the film overly emphasized violence. I expressed that fact in the critique process. More than half of the script, revised script, and footage of the rough cut were about gratuitous violence – “blood and guts.” The Haudenosaunee did not experience violence for over half of its existence, and a viewer could get the impression from the film that they did.

One of the article’s contributors downplayed the complaints about the violence. The initial criticisms were more of a complaint about the excessive portrayal of violence in that the film followed Hollywood’s age-old formula when First Nations’ cultures are portrayed.

Violence, needless to say, has occurred among all nations. However, all nations of the time did not develop a participatory form of government with women’s suffrage as did the Haudenosaunee. That important fact should have been the emphasis of the film, and that should have been developed with detail in the minutes of air time available. It isn’t often that an opportunity to educate a broad public presents itself. The Haudenosaunee constitution, Kaianerekowa, indeed, is something to feel good about.

Cannibalism, along with ducks lifting all the water from a lake, a sorcerer taking the form of an owl, and other elements in the oral tradition of the epic story of the Confederacy’s creation are symbolic. Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist no one takes these things literally. Apparently the film script writers did, plus those who found nothing wrong with the film.

The film was an opportunity to educate, and instead it became a train wreck, in my view.

– John Fadden
Onchiota, N.Y.