I’m an anthropology geek, sometimes to an annoying degree. So I love it on the rare occasion I get drawn into a fascinating new nugget.
Whenever we look into our future, we see doom. Post-apocalyptic societal breakdowns are big money makers in Hollywood. Robots, apes, aliens, dinosaurs or zombies, pick your poison. Even in Asian and African films, the viewpoint has always been from a Western civilization standpoint, or what some of my friends would call a colonizer’s mentality.
In our view, we’re going to freak out with no electricity, no money, no technology to prop up life as we know it. We’ll have to face whatever the great unknown that trying to wipe us off the face of the planet, as we fight and kill each other for dwindling resources. Trust no one.
But what about today’s indigenous peoples around the world? How would they fare in a world without an oppressive government trapping them on arbitrary reservations?
I would say that the moment technology goes off the grid, the indigenous populations, no matter how neglected by their occupying societies and authority states, would be the first to rebuild, and the fastest. They already have established traditions that are taught from generation to generation, on how to live off the land, how to manage a community, and how to adapt to changing climates and environments. They have established effective long-distance communication models that pre-date the telegraph. Also, because of how their history intermingled into our history as civilization and technology took hold and took over their own, that would also make it easier for them to incorporate what’s left of fallen cities into the building blocks of the next communities and nations.
How many of us, regardless of our social status, race, gender, whatever, know how to grow our own food? How many of us are actually doing it, and are good at it? When the lights go out, we’re immediately going back to being lost, stranded, starving pilgrims trespassing on the lands of strangers, either killing each other for scraps, or begging the natives for food.
At first thought, I would visualize that future to look like The Postman or Mad Max. However, what would that really look like? A week after, maybe a year after, it would probably look like Dances With Wolves with a few rusted out Ford Fusions overgrown with vines. But what about a hundred years later? Or a thousand? How would indigenous culture evolve without predominantly colonial influences?
We think it’s apes or robots that will take our place. What if it’s simply the native cultures and species that flourish and thrive in the aftermath of modern society?
I would love to see a post-apocalyptic futurama blockbuster film, through the lens of Native Americans. How will their tribes and nations survive global warming, rebuilding their tribes, consolidating into neighboring nations? How will they deal with the non-natives (like me)? Will they help us survive and rebuild with them? Or will they shoot us on site if we ever set foot on their land again? How will indigenous technologies adapt to modern knowledge and available resources, and evolve to the dramatic changes of an aftermath? Mount Rushmore can become a haunting reminder of what happens when they allowed uninvited guests to stay. The US Flag would become the new Rebel flag. Unrecognized by the new indigenous order, while a reminder of better days and a lost identity by those who still wave it proudly.
I think it’s an excitingly new way to look at the future. One that would eschew cinematic beauty. What would native “cities” look like a thousand years from now? I think a 23rd Century look of Mayan architecture and technology would be mind-blowing. In that Wakanda kinda way.