Interview with Russell Means

Image by Oliver Kluge
(Transcript of the interview with Rus­sell Means, 11/15/95. published 4/1995 in German.

Coyote: I have seen Poca­hontas. I have been in the States in September and Oc­tober and I’ve seen the movie. Let’s start with one of the ba­sic questions that everybody will ask you: How did you come to do this?
Means: How did I come to do it? Well I had an audition for it and I won the role - it’s that simple.

Coyote: Did they cast you right away or did they have others?
Means: No, there was a - I don’t know who all. You know, when you go to an audition for voice-over parts, you not like the only one who goes there.

When I went there there was some other people out in the lobby. I don’t know if they were audi­tioning for Chief Powhatan or other roles. There were some white people out there in the lobby. So I don’t know, I think, you know, it’s an audio audition and they ran it very individu­ally.
So I don’t know I was up against or anything. And, you know, that they paged me af­ter a couple of months. I audi­tioned actually in 1993 and I got the role and it took a year and a half for voice over work to complete my role. And it took another 4-5 months for them to finish the film.

Coyote: What is your im­pression of the movie and the contents especially the por­traying of the Indians in the movie?
Means: It is undoubtedly and unequivocally the finest movie Hollywood has ever produced and shown about American Indians in the his­tory of Hollywood. It’s the best one ever.

Coyote: I’ve seen there has been some criticism on that point.
Means: Criticism by - I think - dysfunctional people. So dysfunctional that they don’t want accept anything that makes children happy. I don’t understand that kind of logic, to criticize something that makes children happy. Don’t take your kids then!

Coyote: From reading sec­ondary material, basically books on the story of the real Pocahontas, there have been many changes to actual story line.
Means: Well, I’ll tell you: I’m no fool. Anything and everything I get involved in, in Hollywood or outside Hol­lywood, always ends up con­troversial. Okay? If I’m seen with a white walking on the street with a white woman, that becomes a controversial item, you know!
So naturally I researched my role, like I would in eve­rything I’ve done in Holly­wood. And I found eleven stories in my research about Pocahontas, seven of which were written after she died, so I discarded those. I read the four written during her time. Two of the stories were written by two different men in Jamestown, they were Jamestown settlers, and they wrote about her when she was ten and eleven years old when she came.

They noted her because #1 she was the daughter of Chief Powhatan and #2 when she played with the children of Jamestown she was nude, as were all the other Indian chil­dren. Indigenous people world-wide in the climes of that latitude, the children al­ways run around naked, even to this day, okay? So it’s not unusual.

I read those two accounts, you know, when Jamestown was first settled. Then I read both accounts by John Smith. The account that he wrote in his journals, the diary he kept while at Jamestown - which had no mention of Pocahon­tas.

Upon his return to the court of England he then wrote his account of being saved by Po­cahontas. Unbeknownst to him when he wrote that that was the same year that Poca­hontas married John Rolfe. And shortly after he pub­lished his work she appeared in England.

She did as royalty by the way, because she was the daughter of Chief Powhatan. She was allowed an audience with Queen - you guys aren’t British, so you don’t mind - Queen - whowasit? - Queen Elizabeth.

Coyote: It should be a king at that time, if I remember correctly.
Means: Anyway she was re­ceived by the Queen as roy­alty. By then she had ac­cepted Christianity and she had been schooled in Euro­pean dress and hairdo. So when she went to court she was dressed as a European, and as royalty.
Her husband was a com­moner, who was not allowed an audience with the Queen - his own Queen! Haha! Be­cause John Rolfe was a com­moner. So, while she was in England, she was treated by the royal court and I just stop. You’d like to know the amount of research I’ve done.

Coyote: From the sources I have read, some doubt the existence of John Smith at all, I read two sources that doubt he ever existed -
Means: Both sources come from people who are born way afterwards. Of course there was a John Smith, and he wrote about it. Christ, it’s in the expeditionary record, he was put in charge, in mili­tary charge of the entire set­tlement.
I mean, that was part of - what’s the word I’m looking for? At that time, when set­tlers went, they went with a merchandising agree­ment. It’s like everything they get a cer­tain percentage, eve­rybody there, and there’s people put in charge, and they get this proclamation from the court, all of that.

So very definitely, he was there. Now, John Smith, when we wrote this, under­stand, that up until very re­cently many people bought their sons offi­cerships in the English mili­tary. I mean, that was royal Europe, all over the place.

It bought themselves an of­ficership, and that was for ad­vancement in English soci­ety. He was seen as a military man, a successful, I might add, military man.

For him to be in England and write that a savage primitive woman saved his life was like some­one coming out saying they’re gay, in the 1950s, you know? Coming out of class and saying they’re gay in the 1950s. I mean, that’s a poten­tial to ruin his career.
And he didn’t have to come up with that, because he was sup­posed to be a hero. He was already treated this way. So that’s a factor that no-one takes into account. I throw that in, as a titbit, for my re­search. So that’s why I be­lieve the story.

Now, the two men who wrote about Poca­hontas when they first settled in Jamestown, they didn’t men­tion anything about it, you know, that John Smith’s ac­count is the only one. But John Rolfe never disputed it.

When she got over to Eng­land, she also - it was big news, she was there as the saviour of John Smith. She stopped the war, allowed Jamestown, I mean it was in all the news, so John, her husband, never disputed that fact.

And he was, like I said, he was a commoner, he wasn’t even allowed close to the pal­ace. So, her action ac­tually enhanced the view of Indian people in the royal house.

That’s another reason why I believe it, because she was treated as royalty. Now, that’s my research. Also, be­fore you even get to these questions, ‘cause I’ve heard them all in the United States, they say he was too old for her and -

Coyote: Basically, she was in her teens!
Means: Well, let me say. She’s ten or eleven when these two guys wrote about her and they put the time, 1607 or something. John, I mean John Smith, wrote about her saving his life. And that was four years later, af­ter these other two guys wrote, okay? So, she’s 14 years old, minimum 14 years old.

In indigenous societies up to and including this very moment, after young girls be­come women, young women, they’re women! And they’re eligible for courtship. How­ever, it’s not true with men. In indigenous societies, men have to be already set on their path to success and can demonstrate they can afford a family. Not a wife, that they can afford a family. Children and a wife, okay?

And they also have to peti­tion, there’s a whole court­ship thing. So, basically, nor­mally, you’re in your late 20s as man, when you court a girl of 13, 14 or 15. And they’re married by 15. John Smith was in his early 30s, it was perfectly normal in Indian so­ciety, and indigenous society, and in fact European society for a well established man to court a young woman of that age. And they usually are married by 15 or 16 and start having children right away.

That was the norm. That was the norm in Europe as it was in indigenous society. It is still the norm in indigenous societies. So there’s nothing strange about a relationship, if even there was one. John Smith never mentioned ro­mance in his writings, and neither did anyone else.
So, Disney, I must say, took artistic license in creating the facade of a romance in order to tell a very revolutionary story.

Coyote: Basically in real life there has been no happy end in a Disney sense, because she married John Rolfe after­wards, some years later.
Means: Right. Well, you know, it depends on how you look at it. I know my ten year old son was really happy that she didn’t marry him. He was at the premier and she was running, and the ship was leaving and she’s running, he was yelling - we were at the premier - »No! Don’t go! Don’t!«. I tell you, tens of hundred thousand people were out and he’s yelling »Don’t go!«, really, into the movie. That was lovely.
He identified with Cocuum, he was very mad at Pocahon­tas. Her blamed her for him get­ting killed. Because he identi­fied with Cocuum.

Coyote: Two of the sources I read actually mentioned a marriage between Pocahontas and Cocuum before this.
Means: I doubt that. I didn’t read anything. My research didn’t uncover that. Not at all. That’s totally made up.

Coyote: Well, it’s difficult to tell apart after all those hundred years.
Means: Anybody who writes after they are dead, you know, is discounted. I don’t understand why any­body could resurrect history, if they weren’t there!

Coyote: Otherwise it wouldn’t be considered his­tory, it would be present! That’s what history is all about, writing about the past. I’m no historian myself, so anything I can do is read about that, compare different sources.
Basically what the movie portrays is that there is this greedy captain Ratcliffe, that tries rip off the land. When he arrived there the Indians do not want to share what they have, with Europeans, and the love of Pocahontas and John Smiths prevents a war and basically makes the Indians share what they have with the Europeans. Don’t you think is kind of problem­atic?
We’re talking about the 17th century, the beginning of a settlement, the start of what later was the Frontier?
Means: The beautiful part of this story is that, as I keep saying, it’s revolutionary, for my people to ever receive jus­tice in the world first Ameri­cans have to live up and face their historical deceit about why they came to the western hemisphere and what they did upon reaching it.
Except for obscure college classes somewhere in Amer­ica, you never hear of these historical deceits ever being addressed concerning my people.

Disney for the first time anywhere addresses this his­torical deceit. And unabash­edly portrays the European for exactly what they were when they came over. They came over to kill Indians and to rape the land. It’s very, very clear, that’s the only purpose they were coming over.

Coyote: But in the movie you see that it stops, the rap­ing, the killing!
Means: The most beautiful part of all, beside from the father-daughter relationship is that this movie introduces the children of the world to my people through the woman. Up and down the western hemisphere we are matrilineal societies. No one knows that.
Our women gov­ern, our women are the back­bone and they’re the strength of our homes and our com­munities and therefore our nations. We follow the woman.

Now that you peo­ple in the entire are getting a sense of what we Indians are all about, and they show the woman - that she has strength of character, and be­cause that strength of charac­ter, she has confidence in her own decisions and convic­tions. So much so that this woman overcomes the advice of her best friend, her father - the wise man of the village, sticks, by her convictions and perseveres and turns out to be right.

In the meantime her father is portrayed as a three-dimen­sional human being, who has all the feelings of a person of that time: anger, rage, wis­dom, strength, diplomacy, but he has tenderness and gentleness and love, and he also has the human capability of being able to change his mind, after he listens to his daughter.

Children have an important place in our world. And I changed the scene in that movie to reflect that. After the first Indian is wounded in the story, they had a scene where was going to go meet in a council of war with his council, and Pocahontas tries to talk to him about her views.
In the original script he dis­misses her, he’s got to go do his adult man thing, you know. But I said that would never happen. In indigenous cultures, specifically in Indian culture, children are priority. We never tell a child »Don’t interrupt«, »Don’t interrupt your Elder«, »Listen, don’t be heard«, you know.

We never tell them that. As soon as they speak, every­thing we adults are doing stops. We listen to a child. They become important. They then understand and grow up that whatever they say or do is important. When a person understands whatever they say or do is important, then they gonna have that consideration whenever they make a move.

What they’re saying and doing is important, so there­fore they better think about it! So when she approaches her father and tells about her feeling in what this is all about and this whole situa­tion, he stops and he listens.

So they changed that. And they enabled him to later on, make him easier for later on to change his mind and choose peace instead of war. Now this is very real. This is the truth of the Frontier you’re talking about. Up until the 19th century, about the middle, about the last one third, even less, the last one fourth of the 19th century.

In other words, a little over a hundred years ago the United States of America still did not have military superi­ority over us. We were al­ways militarily superior to the United States of America, we Indian people.

So the Frontier, we always held the balance of life for Europeans, up until a hun­dred years ago. And now they’re beginning to face the facts.
Also another beautiful thing about this - oh I just fell in love with it, first time I heard that song »Savages«. It is so clear to the children who is the savage. And the savage is who ever advocates war. That’s who the savage is. What a great facet! I mean, I’m telling you, there isn’t one negative about it. There isn’t one negative about it, it’s all for the children.

Coyote: Isn’t the negative part of why the Europeans came to this country just put into one person, Ratcliffe, and disabled at the end of movie?
Means: No, they show that everyone, who -

Coyote: Basically the movie does not show why Europe­ans came, it shows why John Ratcliffe came.__
Means:__ It shows the chil­dren why. Okay? I’m not gonna argue about what chil­dren see. All I can say is what my kids saw. And I have a 15 year old girl, who saw the premier. Ten year old boy, and a four year old boy.

All three of them enjoyed the movie, and all three of them had different reactions.

The four year old loved Meeko, the racoon. The ten year old identified with Coc­uum and was very happy when Poca­hontas stayed home.
My 15 year old, a girl, loved, and it was her word what she said. I just asked her when we were walking away »What do you think of the movie?«. And she said »I liked her strength of charac­ter«. So that’s the word I use, my daughter uses. My 15 year old daughter.

Very important to me that my 15 year old daughter got that out of the movie. So, I also remember back to when I was a child and I wasn’t po­litically correct when I was a child, you know that?

I don’t remember any other friend of mine, older or younger, being politically correct. All I re­member is whether we en­joyed some­thing or not, and whether it was fun.

And if in the process of be­ing fun we learned something xx. And that’s what this movie is all about. For the children, and not for profes­sors and not for nay-sayers or anyone that’s jetted by the eurocentric mal­ism industri­alized world, so that they go to demand from a storyteller that they be po­litically cor­rect and documen­tarily cor­rect when they talk about his­tory.

This is a sim­ple story for children. Based on historical fact. And I say this about his­torical fact: There was a Jamestown, there was a cap­tain John Smith, there was a Pocahon­tas, she saved his life, what more do you want?

Coyote: Let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about AIM.
Means: All right.

Coyote: What is your cur­rent position regarding AIM?
Means: Oh, I’m the execu­tive director of the American Indian Movement of Colo­rado. And I have been since 1990.
We get involved in just lo­cal issues concerning Colo­rado and whenever I get in­volved in things maybe in Arizona or South Dakota, the American Indian Movement of Colorado backed me up. But more or less I stay close to home.

The other thing that I’ve helped out in the strug­gles going on not only in Canada but up in the State of Wash­ington. In fact a year ago I got arrested a year ago Sep­tember. 14 months ago I got arrested in a fishing rights struggle up there, the Lummi people.

And I also demon­strated back home against a corpora­tion that was using our mis­ery, the miserable life we live on a reservation, us­ing that misery to profit from. And we ran that corpo­ration out of the state of South Dakota.

Coyote: How did they profit from that?
Means: They had cover marketing and they called up everybody in the United States that they could get hold of and begged money. For ostensibly this money is supposed to be given to the Indians to alleviate their pov­erty. And what we uncovered and then exposed was that 93% of that they kept. So they were living very well. So that’s I’ve been involved in lately. You know, it doesn’t make national our interna­tional headlines, but the struggle continues and that’s about it.

Coyote: AIM has for a long time been after the idea of pan-indianism.__
Means:__ No, we’ve never been after pan-indianism. Pan-indianism is trying to say that we don’t have any re­spect. We were after Indian rights and very selectively so and we went wherever people were being violated. Whether it was an individual, a family, a village or a nation of Indian people, we got involved.

Coyote: We had the impres­sion, that this idea existed for a long time, pan-indianism. It has been put forward in the United Nations in Geneva, but for one or two years we didn’t hear anything of this again. Three or four years ago we did hear a lot of this.

Means: I can’t help what are other Indians are talking about, they might be talking out of both sides of their mouths, I’ve never —-
advocated for a voice to be heard in the international community, but that doesn’t say we’re after pan-indian­ism, we’re just after a voice.
What was done in the inter­national community collec­tively is fighting legal somat­ics lately, but that was after AIM opened up - once AIM opened up the international community, then we - we went back to our community. And what I call the »suits«, suits took over, lawyers and - when we opened up the inter­national community back in 1977, by going to Geneva and working with the United Nations, we did it with AIM and traditional old people, who couldn’t even speak English.

Once we opened up the in­ternational community, po­litically speaking, then the suits came and they found out, hey!, that you get plain rights over here and pretend to be important, you know?

And so we just stepped away from it, and - sure enough - the suits made a mess of eve­rything and pretty soon I’m thinking we gonna have to come back and step in and clean up their mess be­cause just as in the United States or any other colonized country in the western hemi­sphere these »suits«, that I call suits, freaks - it just blows my mind, but they’re literally bending over walking back­wards towards some of these European nations just so they can get these plain rights and get fancy titles. Doing that they don’t get anything else. It’s really a sad comment on my own people, but it’s true.

Coyote: What do you think of what currently develops in the international arena now that the Declaration has been dropped by the United Na­tions because countries like the United States?
Means: No, it hasn’t been dropped. They are meeting in fact this next week, in fact I got a phone call.

Coyote: The original has been dropped, they are pre­paring a new one by now with a different Working Group which has been set up with less Indian participation.
Means: So you’re telling me what I already know?

Coyote: No, what do you think of the development in that?
Means: As I said, AIM’s gonna have to come back and clean up the mess that the suits have made and that’s the perfect example of the co­lonialism what some these al­leged Indians are doing is gaining favour from certain nations and excluding the rest of the Indians so that they can be the perfect little Indians for the United Na­tions and they get to run around in the airplanes and stay at the hotels.
It’s sure pa­thetic. It’s like Braveheart all over again - the movie »Bra­veheart«? That’s what coloni­alism is all about: Buy a few Indians and that’s it. And that’s what happens.

Coyote: Do you think that a positive development is possi­ble at all at this stage?
Means: No, I don’t believe in world government any­more than I believe in a na­tional government.

Coyote: What would be the thing that could help you out there, now the world govern­ment nor national govern­ment will basically very much help you?
Means: In the international community I’ve never seen the United Nations as being a help to anybody, and I think they’re proving that up very clearly all around the world, from Africa to the Balkans to Asia, wherever they go.

We have felt, what we al­ways did in the international commu­nity was develop alli­ances with groups as such as yours, with countries such as Nerere’s Tanzania, when he was running and other coun­tries that we developed rela­tionships with. But we’ve, on an individual basis, but we’ve never had to go to the United Nations except in terms of conferences.

But NGOs, you know, any­one in the interna­tional com­munity, as long as they want to, will use the United Na­tions to get indige­nous people from around the world to­gether, which is a plus.

Coyote: Well, there are some NGOs from the Ameri­cas there.
Means: Right, so we - listen, when AIM started, we were the only NGO, only indige­nous NGO in the world. Now there’s dozens, which is good and bad. The interna­tional community has to be addressed and now we’re part of it, except now we got some people trying to sell us out, for their own self-xx and it’s really sad happening.
And so these guys can go to two or three international meetings a years - that they’re selling off! - it’s amazing. Get ahead and suit the colonial powers, Canada and the United States principally, the other countries secondarily. Colonialism is a powerful weapon against the own peo­ple.

Coyote: What do you think about NAFTA?
Means: Oh, NAFTA - are that the Indians of Chiapas made more a statement.

Coyote: NAFTA, there are many people that say it’s an­other instrument of colonial­ism, others say it’s some idea to get work in Mexico, some say just a rape of resources from Canada and cheap la­bour from Mexico and the buck stays in the States, the big countries.
Means: All it does is make the IMF and the world bank that much stronger and there­fore the corporate greed of the world is gonna benefit, that’s all NAFTA is. That’s all GATT is - it’s no longer called GATT, right? I forget what it’s called now, but it’s just perpetuation of Bush’s new world order.

Coyote: Now there are some talks about combining the European Union and NAFTA. It would basically enable the Europeans to get cheaper to resources like Ura­nium.
Means: But they’re also banding together because of Asia.

Coyote: My impression was that always one of the basic problems that Native Ameri­cans face is the lack of knowledge among the white Americans. If there are now movies that can transport some information, but it will not be enough information. So, what could be done to in­crease this flow of informa­tion to inform the white ma­jority population about what basically is happening, what they are doing?
Means: Well, basically, I gave myself beginning in January of 1993 I opened up my offices in Santa Mon­ica: »Treaty Productions«. I gave myself five to eight years to establish Treaty Productions than I’m home. I go home for good, the rest of my life. And what I’m after is really in es­sence what AIM was after.

Still freedom and independ­ence for my people, but now I understand that you’re not gonna do it - I’ll never save all my people, you know, I’m no longer a young idealist, I’m a realist. And that I’m go­ing to be able to liberate my people one person at a time.

And then a community. And then maybe two commu­nities. And then maybe three and maybe we’ll have a ripple effect, hopefully. Point being though is that we gonna start small. In the meantime the world has to now, including the American people have to know, that we’re human be­ings, that we deserve to be thought of as being human beings.

I mean, there are five na­tions in the western hemi­sphere that are majority In­dian population. You never hear anyone in the interna­tional community ever talk about majority rule for In­dian people in Ecuador, Peru -

Coyote: Bolivia -
Means: Bolivia, Guatemala and Panama. You don’t hear about majority rule there.

Coyote: There is a white minority ruling.
Means: That’s my point, we’re not considered human beings. This movie Pocahon­tas, The Last of the Mohi­cans, Natural Born Killers, all present us as three-dimen­sional people in some cases like in Pocahontas four di­mensions. Natural Born Kill­ers - a fourth dimension.
So, what we need now is contem­porary movies about contem­porary Indian life, also por­traying us as human beings. And so it’s a slow process, but Hollywood cer­tainly - Hollywood and the entertain­ment industry cer­tainly - is going to play a ma­jor role.

And that’s why I’m into the entertainment industry whole heart. I got a CD - my second CD - coming out next week, and it’s called »Russell Means the Radical«. My first CD was called »Russell Means - Electric Warrior«.

I’m forming a band that I wanna bring over here to Europe, late spring or early summer of next year ‘96. I’ve written my autobiography, the one you just saw.

And I’m writing - I’ve got two other book projects that I’m writing. I write screen­plays, I’ve written a screen­play that I’ve signed with Warner Bros. and Oliver Stone’s looking at it to direct and Daniel Day-Lewis has script approval to star it, and it’s about Wounded Knee in 1973.
So, all these endeavours, I write music, all of these artis­tic expressions is to put fourth that Indian people are human beings and should be included in the human family and not excluded as we are today. So, I think the fastest and most effective way is the entertainment industry. It’s an enormous venue that I never had one inkling or one ambition to ever be a part of because I didn’t even under­stand it. I didn’t understand the world of art. Now I do.

Coyote: How do you tell the entertainment business to do this, because the won’t do it for a cause, the don’t care about the cause, they want to make money.
Means: Of course!

Coyote: How do you tell them they can make money with it?
Means: Disney’s doing it. Let me say this: In the last ten years you had Dances with Wolves, which I do not agree is a good movie. It still uses stereotypes and the Indians are only two-dimensional. They’re not fully developed human beings, characters, all right? Sympathetic, some of them! It’s the good Indian and the bad Indian.

But you’ve had the Last of the Mohicans that showed Indian people as three-dimen­sional. You’ve Natural Born Killers, you’ve had some other minor movies - that I’ve been in a part of - and that others have been - Thunder­heart - and now Pocahontas all showing us as three- and fourth-di­mensional human beings.

The point I wanna make is that Hollywood will see, every time they’ve been true to us as a people, historically, and treat us as human beings, they make money - they make money. Every time they use stereotypes - one excep­tion, what I call »Lawrence of the Plains«, which is also known as Dances with Wolves, that’s the only ex­ception to the rule, but it goes to prove the role - but all the other stereotypical movies that use our stereo­types failed, miserably! Geronimo - shh! -, Blackrobe - shh! - goes down out of sight, into video and you never hear of it again.

Coyote: From the sixties to the eighties they made big money with Westerns that did portray stereotypes.
Means: Right, exactly. Now, they no longer do. At least in America they don’t. And what is happening now in America is producing mov­ies that are historically true, are historically true and are showing us as human beings and those are making money.
Now, I do not say it’s Hol­lywood that does this. Holly­wood stumbles on to profits. They make more bad movies than they do good movies - of any kind! They lose more money than they make money! And that’s why so many people go out of busi­ness. The point, though, is that in - we’re am I going? I lost my -

Coyote: About making profits in Hollywood.
Means: Yeah, hm - the - oh, to graduate from these his­torical truths to contempo­rary truths. And once that’s happened then we’re making the last steps. We gonna also use music. I’m not the first to use music. John Trudell, was an AIM leader, who went to recording. He’s got two or three albums out now, also there’s Floyd Westerman, and he was the very first to come out through music.

So it’s looking out for us as artists, and - oh, I know that’s going, the sophistica­tion of the audi­ence is what gives Hollywood other prof­its. And I believe it’s the so­phistication of the American people oddly enough that is demanding truth and they’ll go see truth.

They will not go see stereo­types. I mean, they’re saying to Hollywood producers »Hey, I’m sophisticated. Treat me like that!«. And hopefully, Hollywood is catching up.

Coyote: For a 100% true image of what American In­dians are, do you think that those scripts will have to be written by Native Americans, especially when talking about portraying contemporary is­sues?
Means: No, and I hate the word »Native American«, by the way, Indian people - art is art, and anyone can be an artist, including Indians. If Indian people wanna partici­pate in that art, then do it.

Don’t stand on the sidelines and complain. As far as I see, artist, any artist can express whatever he sees or she sees in that creation of art. Now, every artist is a revolutionary.

It’s always the artist in west­ern culture. Artists are always the first ones to see the need for change. And normally, what happens in western cul­ture after the art­ists see the need for change intellectuals somehow finally grasp it, dis­seminate it to the general ur­ban masses and then once the people of the land get in­volved with what the artists created, you have revolution and you have change.

But un­til those four ele­ments come together, nothing ever hap­pens, you might have revolts, but like - I have a song that goes »revolt is good, revolu­tion is better«.

And that’s really the essence of why I say American Indi­ans don’t have to write every­thing and act in everything, direct eve­rything that’s all about Indi­ans. Artists will take care of art. And it’s about change in the world that needs to be said.

I mean Michael Mann co-wrote, co-produced and di­rected The Last of the Mohi­cans. Oliver Stone, Disney, all of these people made their own artistic creations about my people and very good, very good job they did.

So I have no xx about other people, I don’t even have about other people playing Indians, you know? In fact, in the movie »Wounded Knee« that I’m going to pro­duce, I’m offering the best role, which is my role, in the movie to Daniel Day-Lewis, offering him the opportunity to play me.

And I’m not saying that out of vanity, I’m saying that out of my respect for him as an artist, ‘cause I know that he can create the suspension of disbelieve and get across ex­actly what my script that I co-write with Bxx Johnson about Wounded Knee, what we’re trying to say is we’re rebuilding a nation and I want freedom. That’s the two things that movie is saying. And I’m confident that Daniel Day-Lewis can deliver that message.

Coyote: You talked about American audience want more sophisticated entertain­ment that treats the truth in a better way than has been be­fore.

When it comes to mov­ies about Indians - although many people don’t it, Dances with Wolves was the one that started it - although now Kevin Costner is no longer anyone likes, especially the Sioux nation, for what he’s doing with the golf course there - but he kind of started there with a white man being an artist making his own ar­tistic impression and now no­body likes.

So, he kind of went after the money, which is what we learned of what he did after­wards. Don’t you think there is a danger -
Means: Sure! There’s always a danger.

Coyote: Because Hollywood isn’t all about art. There are artists, but making films is about making money.
Means: Like I say. He’s the exception. And the exception is going to prove the rule. So he sticks with the rule. Now there is - you know, every movie that’s made about In­dian people are in fact about non-Indian people are perfect and we’ve more flops than there are successes. So I’m confident that there’s gonna be more bad movies made about Indians, more bad movies made period.
I have no control over that. I wouldn’t even pretend to want to. I can only do when I get involved, like I say that the Indian people especially like those that were ignorant enough to criticize Pocahon­tas. And don’t stand on the sidelines and complain. Get involved! And if you’re not involved, then you’re part of the problem.

Coyote: What we are - espe­cially here in Europe - cur­rently monitoring is that alongside with this evolution in movies from Hollywood comes a different view of In­dians along that has been for a long time - for the last two, three years it’s increasing - that is the esoteric thing that’s coming up again.

It has been here in seventies and has been here in the eighties but now it’s coming back again in a kind of abu­sive way, and there also some Indian people involved in that.

Is there some trend like this in America, too? There’s defi­nitely one here in Europe. Esoterics, try to exploit In­dian spirituality. It’s defi­nitely a trend here, came up the last two, three years.
Means: It’s been going longer than that in Europe.

Coyote: Yes, but it’s coming up every ten years or so.
Means: No, a guy from - you know, he’s from Rose­bud, the reservation right next to mine - Milo Yellow­hair, o yeah! My people are among the biggest exploiters, man! It’s amazing.

Wallace Black Elk, yeah, In­dian spiri­tuality is definitely being ex­ploited. Massively in the United States, and that’s one of the reasons I wrote my autobiography. Because I wanna set some of that record straight, of what In­dian spirituality is really all about.
Coyote: Thanks for the in­terview! Pleasure to meet you.

We thank Buena Vista for the kind support.

cf: Film critique of Pocahontas (German only).

Erstellt von oliver. Letzte Änderung: Freitag, 17. Januar 2020 15:06:11 CET von admin. (Version 5)


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