“Beam me up, Scotty. There is no intelligent life here.”
— Said by every proud geek whose life has been affected by Star Trek.
Anyone else old enough to remember that quote? Back in the 80’s, it could be found on plenty of inexpensive t-shirts and the occasional coffee mug in joke and tourist shops across America. Did I ever own one? No, but I still chuckle over, as no doubt many of you do.
I have been writing for Indian Country Today as NDN Geek for three years and I think it is safe to assume that to those of you who know me are aware of my love of Star Trek.
As a Trekkie for nearly 30 years — three-quarters of my life, I am super-excited about Star Trek’s 50th anniversary this year. Five decades of Kirk and Spock, Picard and Data, Sisko and Worf; Tribbles, warp fields, communicators and chasers; Diplomacy and Prime Directives. It’s crazy to think some of these things started out as ideas and props from a cancelled TV show from the 1960’s and are with us today in some shape or form.
In my opinion, many essential devices in today’s world were inspired by this show. How many other television programs can say they have impacted both the entertainment industry and the world we live? It has been truly an incredible 50 years that no one, including Gene Roddenberry could have predicted.
But what about the civil rights messages this show was known for? What happened to those developments? Here are five reasons the diversity of Star Trek is great for Native people:
Star Trek was a leader in the world of science fiction. It was also a leader in the world of civil rights.
The cast was incredibly diverse at a time when the American Indian movement was facing opposition from the federal government and civil rights leaders were being attacked by police dogs.
I ask you to take a good look at the world around us. We are not a world that wants to accept diversity or genuinely work on improving our planet.
Star Trek taught us that all types can be empowered.
From the Native side of things, we are still looked upon as a defeated people. We see our likenesses and images used as racist caricatures for sports teams and university mascots. Items that our people deem culturally significant and sacred are used as “hip” props.
Star Trek taught us no matter how seemingly insignificant a creature, they could all be empowered. Take a look at the Tribbles. The crew thought they were just cute little fuzzy animals, but they nearly took over the Enterprise. In numbers, all together, we are strong.
Star Trek taught us that all races could work together.
One step onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise would convince anyone that many races can work together to overcome any odds.
These are injustices we face as Native Americans today. If you asked our ethnic brothers and sisters who share this land with us, they would likely same the same. We all live in a reality of hatred and racism that shows its ugly face in the form of mass shootings and unchecked violence that is scars the heart of our nation.
It is the same type of social division that the 60’s are best known for, the very same decade that birthed Star Trek are still prominent today.
Star Trek taught us there is hope.
There is always hope when we have people stand up for what is right. There is hope when people who go against the accepted norms and say enough. There is hope when individuals choose what is morally right in the face of persecution. There is hope when we choose decency and recognize diversity for the gift it is. There is hope when people behave like Kirk and Picard say enough, and chose to solve problems instead of making them.
Star Trek is a promise that things can be better.
It is a spirit of evolution that guides us to a wonderful tomorrow, filled the same principle that Gene Roddenberry spoke of when he coined the concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Star Trek is a call for us all to be more than we are, becoming ambassadors of hope to a world in need.
In closing I would like to offer both congratulations and my gratitude to all who have contributed in the past 50 years of Star Trek, you have made my life better with your shows, films, books and toys. You helped provide a safe retreat a young S’Klallam growing up on his reservation 30 years ago and continue to inspire me today.
To quote my favorite Vulcan, “May you continue to live long and prosper in the years ahead.”
Jeffrey Veregge is an award winning artist and designer from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Kingston, Washington. A professional comic book artist who works with Marvel, Valiant and IDW Comics. Speaks fluently the languages of Geek, Nerd and occasionally Droid. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/JeffreyVeregge and Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/jeffreyveregge/