This article provides a critical reflection on, and some key examples of Native American media activism, in particular film and video making. The aim of the article is to discuss the reasons why such activism is important, consider its strength and challenges, as underpinned by the work of critical media scholars, such as Stuart Hall and other prominent scholars. To do so, it provides relevant examples and cases which point at the role of and issues surrounding image, representation, (in) visibility, access, recognition, dissemination, censorship and identity, in relation to video activism.
The main findings are that video activism can be a helpful tool in the frame of Native Americans’ struggles for self-making and sovereignty, reversing the trend established historically first by the European settlers, and then by the American ‘mainstream’ population, whose aim was to erase and assimilate Indigenous peoples. However, although we pinpoint the fact that indigenous media, such as Fourth Cinema or video productions broadcast on platforms like Youtube, are used as political tools by Native Americans, the essay also means to highlight the limits of such tools, whether the latter are theoretical, or practical.
In summary, this article considers traditional indigenous media in self-making processes, mainly through the importance of filmmaking. Furthermore, it emphasizes how resistance, resurgence and sovereignty are pursued with the utilization of digital Indigenous media. It also tries to underline the limits of those methods which should be taken into account to strengthen Indigenous activism. Finally, even if these points are related here to Native American activism, they seem relevant to any kind of activism. It is hence key to highlight that the critical arguments and example provided here can support teachers’ work related to social justice. Teachers can use the examples and points made here as a reflection trigger with students in higher education across disciplines and high school, within and beyond the fields that tackle media, culture, sociology, and history.
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