I’m working against a few deadlines for my upcoming book, appropriately entitled The Thing About Skins. (Shameless plug—pre-order at CutBankCreekPress.com; this book will amazing, just like the last one. Just ask me.) Additionally, right now work is also crazy like the zombie apocalypse and crazy non-Native people eating other people’s faces, so these next few posts will be suspiciously short, like Hopis, but also powerful and full of deep meaning also like Hopis. Instead of my usual analysis of whatever’s going on, these next few columns will celebrate a few Native folks that are really doing some substantial things and everybody should know about them and support them.
Tatanka Means earned the inaugural fan-spot. I don’t know this young brother well, at all, but the little bit that I do know about him, I love and respect. If we were at the basketball court, I’d say that Tatanka’s got next, because I truly believe that he will be the next Adam Beach or Graham Greene; he will be the next Native to go mainstream and work beside those brothers in Hollyweird. Now, there are many very competent Native actresses and actors in Hollywood, right? I mean, even Johnny “I Have No Clue What Kind of Indian I Am But Whatever Kind He Wears Dead Animals On His Head” Depp is now an official Indian, right?? Well, no. But even if so, the cool thing about Tatanka (and Adam) is their accessibility—there is no “I’m a Star” weirdness to either of them. They’re Native Actors that are still…well, Native.
That doesn’t happen a whole lot. In my experience, when Native folks make it out of Indian country, they make it WAYYYY out of Indian country, turn into Indian vegetarians (hooo, ennit??) and start talking about the horrors of mascots all the time. Not Tatanka. He’s Lakota and Navajo, but he’s also really Lakota and Navajo, for better or for worse (HA HA HA). I’m proud of this young man because, despite his success and prolific work, he continues to contribute to Indian people and takes the responsibility that comes with his status very seriously. Additionally, he’s also a new father, an entrepreneur, a family man—destroying bad stereotypes daily for young Native men. I mean, c’mon, he’s starring in a movie that’s completely dedicated to frybread—how much more “Native” can you get than that??
A true modern-day Indigenous warrior, competing in an overwhelmingly non-Native industry.
He has incredible projects going on right now; go check out TatankaMeans.com to get the skinny.
Also, check out the trailer for More Than Frybread movie here.
Let’s put our money where your mouth is—let’s start being serious about supporting our Native warriors.
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and his family also belongs to the Suquamish Nation. He wrote a book called Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i wrote a book about us anyways) which you can get at DKMAI.com. He is also co-authoring a new book with Robert Chanate coming out in the Summer of 2012 appropriately called The Thing About Skins, and the website and publishing company for that handy-dandy book is CutBankCreekPress.com (coming soon). He also semi-does the twitter thing at twitter.com/BigIndianGyasi