NativeThe Role of Film and Culture




By Joanna Hearne
SUNY Press, $95.00, 408 pages

Native Americans have been a big presence in western films since the beginning of the motion picture industry. From the early silent westerns, to the John Ford epics, and the many movies of John Wayne; Native Americans have played a large role. But how did this shape their identity, and more importantly how did it shape societies image of the Native American? These two questions are majored ones looked at by Joanna Hearne in her new book that examines the image of the Native American in film. Not only does she answer those two questions she also looks at how Native film makers have viewed their own culture, identity, and image in film. From the proto-typical western, to Native Americans watching westerns as well. Films play a large role in bringing forth the idea of culture to a major cross section of society. These are our folktales.

This will be a major work for ethnic studies professionals, and people wanting a better understanding of how mass media impacts culture. Joanna Hearne does an excellent job weaving a tapestry across time, from the early days of film, to more modern looks at film making. While she examines some rare works, she does take the time to examine more known works as well.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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