Through a Native Lens

Through a Native Lens is a column from film critic and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Shea Vassar, who will dive into the nuance of cinema’s best and worst cases of Indigenous representation.

Explore the entire Through a Native Lens archive below

The Sopranos Columbus Day

Revisiting The Sopranos’ Columbus Day Episode


The Sopranos is great at showing how ignorant mobsters can be.

The Revenant Scalping

‘The Revenant’ and the Dark History of Scalping


Sure, everyone scalped. But there were those who were compensated for the bloody act and those who have to carry the stereotypical legacy.

The New Mutants Dani Moonstar

“Hey, Standing Rock” and the Anti-Native Harm of ‘The New Mutants’


The film’s racist dialogue is the result of lazy writing. Still, it minimizes one of the biggest cultural movements for Native Americans in the last few decades.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Chief

Chief’s Dynamic Change in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’


Nurse Ratched and R.P. McMurphy are the more famous characters, but Chief is the most important.

Pet Sematary Indian Burial Ground

Digging Up the Indian Burial Ground Trope


“An ancient Indian WHAT?” – Homer SImpson

Rhymes For Young Ghouls

‘Rhymes for Young Ghouls’ and the Legacy of Residential Schools


Tough topics can be educational and empowering when handled appropriately.

Welcome sign to Wind River

The Harsh Reality Behind ‘Wind River’


In order to understand ‘Wind River,’ the history and understanding of the modern threat to Native women must be understood first.

The Searchers Beulah Archuletta

‘The Searchers’ Makes a Joke of Native Women


We take a look at the so-called comedic relief in the classic western film.

Dances With Wolves Dunbar Article

John Dunbar’s Mystical Transformation in ‘Dances with Wolves’


What do John J. Dunbar and every sad white guy in romantic dramedies have in common?