Anyone with a half a brain could figure out that the movie Avatar was directly influenced by the United States’ historic treatment of its own indigenous people.
We came, we saw, we conquered.
In Avatar, however, the indigenous fight back. And victoriously. Spoiler alert.
Not that Native Americans didn’t defend their territory. Just ask General Custer. Or Kevin Costner.
But the Battle of Little Bighorn was more than a century ago. And even Dances With Wolves is considered a classic movie at this point. The sad truth is that even though Native Americans are still all around us and are a very integral part of our nation’s contemporary culture — their history and significance is often lost on today’s youth.
To most young people, Cherokee is a car. And Iroquois is probably corrected on most people’s smartphones to “R U OK?”
But right now Native Americans far and wide are taking a stand in North Dakota that’s sure to capture the attention of all ages.
Thousands of Native Americans from hundreds of tribes across the country are joining together in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Tribe to demonstrate their objection for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say could contaminate their drinking water.
“We’ve lived without money,” said one Native American. “We can live without oil, but no human being can live without water.”
Now I’m not obviously comparing this important event involving real people to a fictional story about creatures from another planet. Nor do I mean to denigrate Indians by implying that they are savage creatures who are incapable of coexisting peacefully. Because that’s not the truth.
But if there is ever a way to get young people to care about this serious issue, it’s to invoke the Avatar connection.
In the movie, humans invade their land to gain access to the fictional element Unobtanium in order to generate money. In this real life conflict, we’re developing on Native American land to fast track the flow of oil to generate money.
In a shocking turn of events, the federal government actually temporarily suspended the construction of the pipeline, which could pave the way for reforms in how we develop on Native American territory in allowing for greater input from the indigenous.
I say it’s shocking not because it isn’t the right thing to do, because it is, but it’s shocking in the sense that our federal government historically has not often sided with Native Americans on such issues. Just ask Andrew Jackson.
Call me a traitor to my own people, but I strongly rooted for the Na’vi when I watched Avatar. And now, I am rooting for these proud Native Americans who are united under a common cause.
In fact, I may head over to North Dakota and join the protest under my tribal name.
I’ll fit right in.