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Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting.
Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting. (screenshot via Youtube)

The timely documentary Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting co-directed by Aviva Kempner and Ben West (Cheyenne) will make its world premiere at California’s American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival. The festival highlights the best of current films from American Indian filmmakers, producers, directors, and actors working through Indian Country. Imagining the Indian will close out the Festival on Sunday, April 3, 2022 with a screening, Q&A, and post-screening reception.

“We are so proud to premiere this film at California’s American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival. We made this film for the good of Indian Country and with the support of Indian Country, and we are excited to debut at a festival focused on Native films and filmmakers,” said Co-Director and Co-Producer Ben West.

Imagining the Indian is a comprehensive examination of the movement to eradicate the words, images, and gestures that many Native Americans and their allies find demeaning and offensive. Included among those is the former name and imagery of the Washington Football Team. While the filmmakers are encouraged by the Team’s announcement to move away from the racist name they profited from for decades, they realize that the fight against Native American Mascoting is far from over.

The Kansas City National Football League (NFL) Team, the Chicago National Hockey League (NHL) Team, and the Atlanta Major League Baseball (MLB) Team remain adamant that they will not change their team names or practices, including the insidious Tomahawk/Arrowhead Chop. Additionally, close to 2,000 secondary schools throughout the country still have harmful Native themed mascots. Imagining the Indian seeks to shine a light on these harms.

“Changing the Washington Football Team’s name is long overdue, but the victory is only piecemeal until the other pro and amateur teams also choose new names,” said Co-Director and Co-Producer Aviva Kempner.

“And eradicating Native American mascoting will rid us of its perniciousness, which is that exposure to it is at the root of negative stereotyping and treatment of all people of color,” said Co-Producer Kevin Blackistone.

Watch the official trailer for Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting.

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