4.2 Menace and Promise in the Media
Television (which Jerry Mander calls "freedom of
speech for the wealthy" (1991:78)) has had a bad effect on family
relations, language and social structure in remote communities.
Cindy Gilday points out that the effect of TV of the Dene has been
"to glamorize behaviours and values that are poisonous to life up
here... People are sitting in their log houses, alongside frozen
lakes with dog teams tied up outside, watching a bunch of white
people in Dallas standing around their swimming pools,
drinking martinis and plotting to destroy each other or steal from
each other, or to get their friends' wives into bed... I heard of
one old woman who prays every night for the people in the soap
operas. She thinks they're real" (in Mander 1991: 104-105).
Six Nations actor, musician and Native activist Gary
Farmer points out that TV is "the modern assimilator, replacing the
old methods of residential schools, churches, and governments...
Television has infiltrated practically every native household from
the farthest reaches of the Northwest Territories through the tip of
South America, and indigenous communities are bombarded by
information that does not reflect their reality or their needs,
their language or their culture... This cycle of alienation must be
broken and Indian media are the only hope in sight for this task"
There are now over two hundred Native radio stations
on reserves across Canada, many of them tied into networks such as
the Wawatay Native Communications Society in Sioux Lookout Ontario.
There are dozens of small television and cable producers as well,
creating shows in Native languages that are broadcast on Inuit, Dene
and other TV networks across Northern Canada. These are augmented by
many Native radio stations now online (mostly in the U.S.), most
notably Native Radio at http://www.nativeradio.com. Gary Farmer has
now established a Native radio centre in Toronto, and is lobbying
the CRTC to allow for a Canada-wide Native radio network.
"For the past twenty years, indigenous communities
around the world have begun to take control of the media most
related to them. This is not an easy task" as the communities face
governments and regulatory boards that favour private broadcasters,
but communities are mastering the technology and the "positive
change a publicly owned radio station can make in an Indian
community is astounding," and "one day, all the indigenous
broadcasters around the world will come together - one day soon"
(Farmer 1994: 64).
Next: 4.3 Questions - Adoptions, Survivals
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