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Hozho of Native Women, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 651

Essay

The fundamental framework in which the various first-person perspectives presented in the film Hozho of Native Women is arguably established in the opening scene. A Native speaker dissects the inadequacy of the “give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” with regards to the situation of Native Americans in North America. For the speaker, this is not the fundamental problem, but rather that Native Americans have been, in her words, “not given access to the stream.” As she clarifies through personal experience, being given access to the stream is not about increased opportunities, in so far as she notes that her father had been offered an apprenticeship to learn welding and her mother a job in waitressing. The access to the stream metaphor rather functions as a systematic critique of the treatment of Native Americans: the system namely is hegemonic for the ruling class of the United States and for them to concede this hegemony, for Natives to be given “access to the stream”, would require a revolutionary and radical change to the system. More specifically, the systematic problems faced by the Native Americans is that this is not the system that they themselves have created; furthermore, it is this same system which has led to their utter marginalization and genocide. Accordingly, only radical revolutionary systematic change is possible for the Native Americans’ to improve their lives in contemporary America.

Certainly, it can be argued that this is a somewhat radical account of the central message of this film. However, the thoughts of the women in the film re-iterate this point. For example, Theda New Breast Ramos, when discussing the personal traumas that many Natives have experienced, locates a solution to these difficulties not in further integration into the system, but rather the strengthening of community ties through a return to the Native tradition itself. To paraphrase her remarks, the Native tradition is that which grants the answers to the dilemmas faced by Natives and not what is ultimately an alien system which has only caused profound catastrophes for Native life. In other words, the film is a call for a political and social strategy for Native Americans, one that is above all determined by a conscious withdrawal and return to the roots of their tradition. However, this is problematized by the fact that they do not have “access to the stream”: an autonomous Native culture will not be allowed to develop in the context of United States and Canada, as political hegemony has always suppressed Native culture, either through marginalization, such as the reservation strategy, or through some forced integration, which is a betrayal of Native life. The problem of Native life is therefore that only a systematic solution is possible, but this systematic solution will never be fully granted to the Native population, in so far as this would mean a simultaneous concession of hegemony on the side of those who hold power.

The film in this sense re-iterates some of the ethical concerns I have always felt are present in the current United States: the historical legacies of genocide, slavery and exploitation have never been resolved. It is not enough to resolve these problems by integrating those who have been exploited or continually are exploited into the current capitalist system, in so far as this system itself is responsible for these crimes in the first place. The film, in other words, affects my life in the sense that it articulates a very clear ethical concern which I also share and which seems irresolvable in the current context: the current land of North America is occupied by non-indigenous peoples who have historically committed genocide against the native population. How to resolve a genocide that has already happened reflects the tragic element that constitutes this deeper foundational level of American life, as the film compellingly conveys.

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