Tuesday , May 17 2022

Al Jazeera- A dynamic year of indigenous communication

October 2012

Indigenous media is a tool for self-determination, emancipation and revival of dying languages.


Indigenous film is taking off worldwide. In Norway, the International Sami Film Centre launched the Indigenous Film Circle and its Film Fellowship, promoting indigenous storytelling through film. Throughout Latin America, indigenous cinema is garnering more attention than ever before. In Mexico, Diego Rivera’s Cultural Center hosted an Indigenous Film and Video Festival for the week of Original Peoples in April. In June, the Argentine province of El Chaco organizes the Fifth Festival of Indigenous Cinema.

Everywhere, the message is similar. The XI International Festival of Indigenous Peoples Cinema and Video, which started last September 25 in Bogota, Colombia, was dedicated to “life, images of resistance”. Yepan, a Chilean on-line collective of indigenous cinema and communication, is designed as a transnational portal to support audiovisual among indigenous peoples. Otavalo filmmaker Alberto Muenala stresses that cinema is a collective practice, and hopes that Runacinema will provide an opportunity to engage the youth in crafting Kichwa aesthetics in cinema beyond Ecuador.

Storytelling emancipation

Indigenous media is a tool for self-determination in many ways. It is an important first step to revive languages that may otherwise disappear. Broadcast and entertainment ensures language transmission to younger generations. This implies transmitting stories and structures of knowledge, therefore securing the survival of the community. Media is both a means of education and keeping collective memory. In that sense, indigenous media is storytelling emancipation.

For instance, media is increasingly used across the Americas to foster public awareness of state policies promoting mining practice in indigenous territories, frame mobilisations as a larger defence of water rights and expose official and corporate violence against those communities who resist these depredations.Indigenous media also permits artists and activists to reframe discourses.David Hernandez Palmar, the Wayuu producer of the film Owners of the Water, sees an emancipatory movement of indigenous peoples through media. Often marginalised by governments and misrepresented in mainstream media, indigenous peoples seek to contest stereotypes and historical narratives. Indigenous broadcast may tell Seminole stories left untold or provide a different perspective to learn Geronimo. In the process, indigenous media create opportunities to hold governments and power elites accountable and expose patterns of discrimination.


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