The Western Film: Culture and Concept, “Redskin”

“Redskin” (1929) was one of the last silent films from Paramount Pictures, and featured both two-color and tinted print footage. It tells the story of Wing Foot, a Navajo man whose education has placed him between two cultures, facing a choice between separatism or assimilation into mainstream white society. Typical for the time, the lead actors were not Native Americans, but the film remains unmatched for its use of authentic locations such as Canyon de Chelly and the adjacent Chinle Indian Boarding School.

The film is significant for its sympathetic depiction of the struggle of Native Americans, newly recognized as U.S. citizens by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, and the inherent social tensions of the time. Although government policy had largely supported amalgamation, contrary views began to surface following World War I, a sentiment driven by the acknowledgment that nearly 17,000 Native Americans had fought. The shift in perspective led to a dawning appreciation of indigenous culture and the value of preservation.

Following the film Angela Giron, faculty member and Assistant Director of the Arizona State University Master of Liberal Studies Program, will lead a discussion that examines the film’s place in history and the portrayal of such issues as racial identity, cultural appropriation, and American Indian boarding schools. Presented in conjunction with ASU’s Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture and the Arizona State University Foundation.

This program is included with museum admission and free to museum members. Admission is free to ASU students with I.D. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Rödskinn (Redskin), 1929; Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History.