Friday, December 10, 2010

One Dead Indian

History is written by the victor. I don’t know who said that, but it seems to carry some truth. Then again, who the victor was can be open to interpretation. There are parts of the U.S.A. where people believe, they won the war of 1812 lol. Empirical truth is something that is absolute, what happened, happened, what is, is; but too often lines are blurred and obscured by the record keeper’s particular perspective. Then for generations to come, we are misled by a semi-truth.

On Saturday night I was watching a movie on APTN (aboriginal people’s television network). The movie was titled “One Dead Indian”… a docu-drama about the shooting death of Dudley George during the 1995 occupation (reclamation) at Ipperwash Provincial Park in Ontario. The thing that made this movie so wonderful was an astounding commitment to truth; there were no real heroes or villains. Although I kept wishing everyone in this situation would just shut up and listen to each other… ignorance is a sad reality of life. In this movie we see how people are motivated; action, reaction, fear, frustration… all playing into the unfolding of events. Nothing in this movie was exaggerated or whitewashed. The interactions between the OPP and the Native activists are very credible performances. Even the trial’s outcome strikes a blow for reason over revenge. I won’t go into the details of the movie because I strongly urge you all to rent it, borrow it from the library or watch it next time it plays on television. This whole movie is a tribute to how history should be recorded.

The trouble with info-tainment/docu-dramas is difficulty in holding audience's attention while respecting the truth of the situation or events. By Bruce Willis blockbuster standards, “One Dead Indian” was not so much entertainment. And fortunately by Harpo Productions standards “One Dead Indian” was not nearly so boring in its quest for authenticity as Beloved. From the occupation of Ipperwash, through the inquest into the shooting; Dudley Georges story took, 9 YEARS… the human anguish of justice delayed (or worse denied) could never be adequately portrayed in book or movie.

It is for us to place ourselves emotionally into another’s (life, situation, shoes) to even begin to understand and use that understanding to create a better world. Empathy maybe one of the most important emotions we can cultivate as human beings. Imagine how much better everything would be if everyone just tried to understand each other. Once we understand a person it is so easy to accept them, possibly even respect them. And isn’t that what we all want, just to be accepted and respected for who we are?

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