Media production has given the tools of storytelling to many, many groups of people. It has allowed people to tell stories about themselves and about others. Leuthold explains, “Native film- and video makers have sought to control the representation of their own communities rather than depend upon progressive non-Natives to give them voice; through film and video, Natives themselves are no longer voiceless.” I would expand on this and include that not only are Natives no longer “voiceless” film production is also allowing them to return to their own traditions as a means of storytelling. People used to (in a lot of ways still do) need to read or write to share stories in the Eurocentric world. This meant that if Native Americans needed to write their stories in order to represent themselves in the Western world. However, with documentary, Native Americans can return to the oral tradition to tell their own stories. While they still need to translate their stories from their Native language into English in order to represent themselves for a Western audience, the transition to audio-visual storytelling allows Native Americans to share their stories in a way that is closer to how they were designed to be shared.
I was struck by the breadth of different kinds of documentaries we watched Monday night. As I know from pervious classes I’ve taken relating to Native American studies, Native Americans have a culture of multiplicity, yet they are often characterized in mass media by a single narrative. The wide array of different kinds of content–animation, observational, poetic–demonstrated the multiplicity of the community. The films showed that Native Americans are a large community of diverse individuals that have many, many stories, not just one.