Do you know the real story of Pocahontas ? If you did I'm sure you would want to remove her from every post including her, its ironic and contradicting that you are advocating for women of colour while also promoting colonialism
Okay this message is super patronizing but I’m going to answer it openly and honestly.
Yes, of course we all know the real story of Pocahontas. We’ve talked about it numerous times, reblogged critiques of it and had open discussions with followers about it. Our focus on this blog is looking critically at Disney films while also celebrating the film characters for what they are and the effect they have on people. We’ve also openly stated that the film should remain a one time mistake—that Disney should learn from it, and that they should leave it in the past and not attempt to drag it into the future with the this trend of live action remakes and shows like Once Upon a Time.
THAT BEING SAID, I was an NDN girl growing up in the 90s with literally no access to natives in pop culture beyond the toxic portrayals in old westerns and whatever my dad could find in bookstores and video rental stores in a time before the Internet made it possible to find things instantaneously. When Pocahontas came out, I freaked out. I remember my dad freaking out. He took me opening weekend to the theater to see it. He was so excited that, at last, there was a mainstream native american character he could show me. And she was strong and she was brave and she was beautiful and she was resilient. And she meant a lot to me growing up.
But I was also lucky enough to not only have a father that knew his history, but to be surrounded by family on our reservation who were hell bent on my cousins and I learning, from a young age, Indigenous history. And it’s something I continued into my education. I took 6 semesters of Indigenous History courses so I’d say I have a better grasp than most people on the subject.
But that’s why this blog exists–to educate and inform, to highlight both the good and the bad effects of not just Pocahontas, but all the characters of color in Disney’s history. And frankly, if we banished every character because of the way their white creators mishandled them–either through ignorance or indifference–we’d be left with nothing and nobody to talk about.
Russell Means, one of the most prolific and important indigenous civil rights revolutionaries, was an actor in the film. He thought that the overall effects of the film outweighed the historical inaccuracies, as long as those inaccuracies were talked about. He said,
It’s so revolutionary, it shocked me when they showed it to me. The first thing that shocked me was the truth. The Eurocentric males are admitting why they came here–to kill Indians and to rob and pillage. That’s never been done before. This is also the first time, other than on “Northern Exposure,” that a human face has been put on an Indian female. Here’s this young woman who’s wiser than her father or any man in the village, and she causes peace to reign. It’s beautiful. (x)
So do I have conflicting feelings about the film? Absolutely I do. As I’m sure everyone reading this blog does. And we’re never gonna shove the movie down anybody’s throats or yell at them for not watching it. People are allowed to have their own feelings about stuff. And as long as people acknowledge the truth behind the movie and not try to divorce it from the real history, I don’t have a problem with someone loving the movie.
This blog focuses primarily on how pop culture and media representation affects children, for better or worse. And the fact remains that not only is this movie already a step above most Hollywood depictions of Natives in that the Natives are actually played by Natives, but it remains the ONLY source of indigenous representation that is accessible to children. Bluntly, right now, it’s all we’ve got. If you don’t think that has some significance, that’s your opinion.
So we’ll continue to showcase Pocahontas on this blog because to not to would be to erase her from Disney’s legacy–both the good parts and the bad.