Peter d'Errico: Leonardo DiCaprio captures indigenous truth in Oscar speech

A scene from The Revenant. Still image from 20th Century Fox

Leonardo DiCaprio exposed indigenous truths and teachings in accepting his Academy Award for best actor, retired professor Peter d'Errico observes:
I haven't seen "The Revenant," so I'm not reviewing the film or DiCaprio's acting. But I do want to examine what DiCaprio said.

DiCaprio conclusion, "Let us not take this planet for granted," carries the whole weight of his message. To take something for granted means to fail to respect it. His reference to "the politics of greed" points to the root source of disrespect for the planet: Greed means selfishness—disrespect. DiCaprio caught something of Indigenous truth here.

DiCaprio's sentiments resonated with oft-noted characteristics of traditional American Indian life ways: appreciation for the planet—Mother Earth—and shaming of greedy behavior. Traditional Native teachings celebrate respect.

DiCaprio's reference to "our children's children" echoes another traditional understanding—sometimes expressed as consideration for "the seventh generation." Together, these three—respect for Earth, respect for each other, and respect for all those yet to come—provide the cognitive structure, the emotional content, and the recipe for daily life of traditional Native Peoples.

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Peter d'Errico: DiCaprio's Oscar Speech: More Than Images at Stake (Indian Country Today 3/13)

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