Indigenous Inclusion and Gender Decolonization in the Entertainment Industry

In the history of the American continent, indigenous people have suffered centuries of discrimination, marked by colonisation, forced displacement and a complex web of systemic challenges.

Within the entertainment industry, this historical oppression has resulted in a persistent lack of representation and often damaging characterisations. Indigenous communities, struggling with economic disparities and cultural appropriation, have struggled to authentically share their stories and perspectives. The ubiquitous stereotypes and under-representation in the media are rooted in both historical prejudices and a lack of contemporary awareness within the sector. However, a growing awareness of these issues has sparked efforts to amplify indigenous voices, dismantle stereotypes and foster a more inclusive landscape that respects and embraces the richness of indigenous cultures.

The lack of inclusion of indigenous or native groups in international events is a significant issue that often reflects a lack of representation, respect, and awareness of indigenous cultures. These groups have a rich history, extensive knowledge, and a unique perspective to offer to the world, yet they are frequently ignored or excluded from international events.

The recent film, “Killers of the Flower Moon” , an American Western film drama has brought us once again, some issues to carefully analyse and consider.

In recent days, Lily Gladstone, actress in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” has brought attention to the theme of gender decolonization and gender-neutral pronouns, reflecting on her indigenous roots and the relationship with gender identity.

Her personal experience highlights how many native languages do not have a clear gender distinction in pronouns, and therefore, the use of the singular pronoun “they” is more common. This reflects the variety of gender identities present in indigenous cultures, challenging the traditional binary conception.

According to Entertainment weekly Gladstone’s decision to adopt the pronouns “she/they” is linked to her fluid gender identity and reflects the desire to decolonize the concept of gender, recognizing and celebrating the diversity present in her cultural origins.

Furthermore, her observations on gender division at the Oscars and in the film industry in general raise important issues regarding representation and award allocation based on gender. This debate has also emerged thanks to other celebrities such as Emma Corrin and Asia Kate Dillon, who have raised the idea that focusing on performance should prevail over binary gender categorization.

Gladstone’s perspective highlights the need for a broader reflection on how awards are allocated and talents evaluated in the film industry, emphasising that gender division could be overcome in favour of a more art-focused approach.

Her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon” and her preparation for it highlight the deep connection with her cultural heritage, showing the importance of representing indigenous community stories in the entertainment industry authentically and respectfully. Her experience and portrayal offer a message of hope and strength for present and future generations, highlighting the resilience of native communities in the face of historical and current challenges.

The inclusion of indigenous peoples in international events is crucial to promote cultural diversity, preserve traditions, and give voice to communities that have been historically marginalised or discriminated against. It is essential to create inclusive spaces that allow representatives of indigenous populations to actively participate, sharing their perspectives, knowledge, and contributions with the world.

Organisations and organisers of international events should actively strive for fair and inclusive representation, ensuring the participation and visibility of indigenous communities. 

Moreover, educating the public about the importance of indigenous culture, the challenges they face, and their contributions to society can also help raise awareness and promote greater respect and awareness of these groups within the international sphere.

The decolonization of the concept of gender and practices imposed on indigenous communities is a complex and crucial issue that requires respect, cultural sensitivity, and historical awareness.

Indigenous populations often have gender systems and sexual identities that are very different from those imposed by colonisers. Colonisation led to the imposition of foreign cultural ideas and structures on indigenous communities, including notions of binary gender and rigidly defined gender roles.

Decolonising gender in this context implies respecting and supporting the gender identities and traditional knowledge systems of indigenous populations. This means not only recognizing and respecting non-binary and fluid gender identities present in indigenous cultures but also dismantling imposed structures that limit or ignore these identities.

It is crucial to listen to and value the perspectives of indigenous communities regarding gender and sexual identities, rather than imposing foreign or Western concepts. This process requires a commitment to the self-determination of indigenous communities, allowing them to define and preserve their gender systems and traditions.

Furthermore, it is essential for everyone to support the decolonization of gender in indigenous communities, being careful not to replicate colonial dynamics of cultural dominance or assimilation. It is a process that requires careful, inclusive, and collaborative work aimed at ensuring respect for gender identities and the rights of indigenous populations in the most respectful and sensitive way possible.

Our Diversity and Inclusion department is here to offer legal counsel and support in cases of discrimination. If you experience feeling pressured, targeted, or disregarded, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Cynthia Cortés Castillo, Digital Marketing Executive

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