Opinion

JaNae Collins: No jokes about the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre






JaNae Collins. Photo from Facebook

JaNae Collins, a member of the Fort Peck Tribes, doesn't want Native Voices at the Autry, a theater group based in California, to joke about the Wounded Knee Massacre:
The entertainment industry in Hollywood has fostered a misrepresentation of the Native American identity. From Iron Eyes Cody to Taylor Lautner, we are consistently overlooked. We are not to be trusted with lead roles and we are to be replaced with spray-tanned Caucasians or similar brown people with no knowledge of us, or our culture. After all, how can one stand up to misrepresentation when one doesn’t know or connect with their culture?

My respect and gratitude for Native Voices began to crumble when I was planning on catching a show of Native Voices at the Autry called “Stories from an Indian Boarding School.” I saw the phrase ‘Wound-A-Knee’ as a heading used to promote the boarding school play on the group’s Facebook page.

The phrase ‘Wound-A-Knee’ was a bad pun on ‘break a leg’ or ‘good luck,’ or so it was later explained to me by Native Voices performers. A few weeks later it was there again, on the Native Voices page. This time, an actress posted a new ‘Wound-A-Kneeism,’ but this time the term triggered an overwhelmingly negative response from several Lakota on Facebook, and also from a Lakota playwright directly affiliated with Native Voices. They all denounced the term. This is where it should have ended. It doesn’t matter what the previous excuse they had for using it, as there were no excuses now. The performer herself apologized for using it. But, of course, it didn’t end there.

Get the Story:
JaNae Collins: Don't Fall For 'Wound-A-Kneeism' (Indian Country Today 2/13)