Through the Power of Social Media
The reclaiming of a voice that has been suppressed for decades, if not centuries, is difficult.
Though oppression and discrimination against Indigenous communities as the other, a lot of knowledge about traditions, symbols, and rituals has been lost.
However, while some knowledge may be lost forever, many people have actively reclaimed their cultures. They put in a conscious effort to spread awareness about their cultural practices and traditions to other members of their communities and people who have never had the chance to engage with Native American culture.
But how could it even come this far? How can cultures be oppressed like this without any consequences for the oppressors? The answer lies in the concept of the other.
“Racial imagery is central to the organization of the modern world” (Dyer 1). It is a form of visualizing the other. By depicting Indigenous people as dangerous, savages, and potential danger for the newly formed American nation, people readily accepted that indigenous people’s discrimination was a necessary means of survival. American settlers could not occupy the land formerly inhabited by native tribes and live there simultaneously. Othering is a means of creating acceptance for actions that would otherwise be perceived as wrong or maybe inhuman. However, by turning Indigenous people into savages, effectively stripping away their humanity, acts of violence and oppression can easily be accepted.
This understanding of visualization as an indicator of what is right or wrong and what can be done to people without consequences is a direct result of the human’s fixation on the visual sense. What we see is true; what we see is real. Through early Americans’ exposure to only the negative imagery of Indigenous people, the depicted characteristics were perceived as accurate and real and hence were not questioned.
Fast forward nearly two hundred years, and the Indigenous culture has been destroyed almost entirely based on images produced and distributed in the eighteen hundreds. However, while the Indigenous people back then did not have a platform, the digital age has provided them with several forms of new media to tell their stories. It is a story not about violent savages but about cultures closely connected to the land they lived on, cultures with colorful traditions and rituals, cultures lost to the unstoppable spread of the American nation.