[Marxism] Arctic Son
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 24 12:00:47 MDT 2006
Alongside "Smoke Signals" and "Atanarjuat the Fast Runner," the new
documentary "Arctic Son" is distinguished by its depth of understanding
about indigenous life as well as its ability to tell a story, a sine qua
non for any film.
"Arctic Son" refers to Stanley Njootli Jr., a young member of the Gwichin
Nation that is spread across Alaska and the Yukon Territory. When the film
starts, we see Stanley Jr. getting drunk in a Seattle bar. As is the case
with far too many Indians, the temptation to abuse drugs and alcohol is
enormous. Although he calls this "partying," one can only feel pity for
this deracinated youth. When he is seen weaving across the street after
leaving the bar, some friends shout out to him from a passing car, "Go get
treatment, Stanley, get treatment." He stands in the middle of the street
and curses them out.
The movie documents his visit with his father Stanley Njootli Sr., who
tries to live according to Indian customs in Old Crow, a tiny village in
the Yukon that is home to the "Vuntut Gwichin," which means "People of the
Lakes." After learning about his son's dissolute life-style, his father
(who is separated from the mom who lives in Seattle) invites him up to Old
Crow to wean him away from drugs and alcohol and to teach him Indian ways.
There certainly will be fewer temptations in Old Crow as the town has a
drinking ban. We do eventually learn that there are ways around this as
there would be in any Indian reservation. People desperate enough will make
their own home brew with anything that is handy, including potatoes.
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