Why we need mirrors and windows

The current reality of underrepresented peoples.

Imagine sitting in your living room and suddenly a film crew enters dressed in strange foreign costumes, speaking a language you barely understand.

Through an interpreter they insist that your culture and life is essential to the world and that they will film you over the next year…btw can they stay in your guest room so they can be present always? After all, it is the least you can do since they are investing all this money to help you.

Two years later, you hear from friends that the film was released months ago and has been nominated for some award…no one told you. You find the film and watch it, confused…it doesn’t resemble your life, culture or problems…you barely recognize your family:

  • Your lesbian daughter is portrayed as an example of the complete lack of gender identity and sexual mores in ‘your culture’;
  • Your cosplay son is an example of the pagan idols and rites still gripping your society;
  • Your paediatrician wife is almost ridiculed for her quaint belief in ‘medicines’ that deny holism;
  • Your life as the primary caregiver is used to demonstrate the matriarchal values of your society; and
  • Most of all, your refusal to learn their language or abandon your own is used as proof that your culture is at risk and will not survive.

May sound unbelievable but this is the current reality of most cultural documentary work throughout the world and especially in underrepresented or indigenous cultures.

Indigenous Media is Creating spaces for indigenous voices in the ongoing debate of their own cultural identity in development, politics or climate change.

Communication and media are the keys to raising awareness, sharing knowledge and supporting a broader debate on indigenous knowledge, culture and values.

Mainstream media under-represents Indigenous communities reproducing stereotypes, ignoring unique knowledge, and framing them as proxies, victims, or heroes when it comes to climate change.

Indigenous journalists and media counter this systematic bias often by reporting on what isn’t covered (or covered well, or covered consistently) by other media. But also they do so by turning to Indigenous people as experts on their lives and their histories.

“Indigenous media can help educate and inform. They can include and bolster voices. They can also promote changes in attitudes and social behavior, and help identify sustainable opportunities for development that are inclusive and equitable.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Recognizing Indigenous communities’ concerns, knowledge, and priorities as adaptation planning for climate change takes shape has benefits for everyone. Because indigenous communities are often located outside major urban centers, indigenous peoples are likely to suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change.

Indigenous media is especially important for indigenous women, whose voices are shunted aside, and who are making already a significant contribution to local human development.

The world’s Indigenous communities are leveraging media technologies to overcome geographic isolation, to foster new linkages with Indigenous populations globally, and ultimately to mitigate structural power imbalances exacerbated by non-Indigenous media and other institutions.