is a media coalition initiative that brings a global awareness to the lack of inclusion of Native Women in Film & Television, which is directly linked to the epidemic of Murdered and Missing Native Women & Girls.
Though the film industry had been established for half a century already, 1977 marked the first time a Native actress carried a leading role in a contemporary movie, The Girl Called Hatter Fox.
It took Hollywood 42 years to produce another film featuring a Native actress in a leading role, Netflix’s ‘Chambers’ in 2019.
The disheartening statistics regarding Indigenous representation in Hollywood continues. Between 2003 to 2019, America did not see a Native actress in a co-star, guest-star, or series regular role in episodic television on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. For 16 years, these major cable networks disregarded the Native women’s narrative, contributing to the dangerous epidemic of invisibility of Native women and girls in our society.
Native Women in Film & Television founder Joanelle Romero met with representatives from ABC Network to give voice to this problematic issue. Due to the persistent work of Native Women in FILM and the #WhyWeWearRED initiative, Native Women in FILM is happy to announce that we now have representation. In the fall of 2019, Tantoo Cardinal was cast as a series regular in ABC’s Stumptown. In 2020, Irene Bedard was cast as a recurring regular on CBS Network’s FBI’s Most Wanted. 2022, Grace Dove was cast in Alaska Daily on ABC Network.
While we celebrate this progress, a few Native actresses working in the film and television industry is a far cry from where we need to go.
Today, there are still no Native Actresses working in lead, costar or featured roles on prime-time episodic television ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.
- Most Americans state that they would like to see curriculum change in schools at each grade level. What they have learned is inaccurate and the continued untruths is damaging to all Americans.
- 72% believe that change in school curricula on American Indian History is of utmost importance to move forward with accurate information of American Indian Culture.
- 87% of state-level history standards Fail to Cover Native Peoples History and this remains harmful for all Americans, especially the next generations.
- Content analyses of prime-time television and popular films reveal that the inclusion of American Indian Characters ranges from zero to 0.4% and Native women 0.0005%.
Other issues Indigenous Women face: sexual harassment, assault, human trafficking, inequality for women in all kinds of workplaces, violence against the land is violence against women.
Violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions. Four in five Native women will be the victims of violence during their lifetimes. Native women remain the most underrepresented minority in the industry.
While there is no national database on missing and murdered indigenous women, on some reservations Native women are murdered at a rate 10 times more than the national average.
Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or abused than any other racial or ethnic group in the US. Eight in ten Native women will be raped, stalked or abused in their lifetime and one in three Native women will be raped, stalked or abused every year.
Meanwhile, the representation of Native women in mainstream film and television is plagued by invisibility, stereotypes and whitewashing. While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reported a body that is 30 percent people of color, only 0.0026 percent of its members are Native women.
Why We Wear Red Campaign
Social Media Campaign
This initiative was christened “Why We Wear RED” in order to create a powerful slogan identified with a strong symbolic color and image of hand across the face to bring attention to the fact that not only are Native and Indigenous Women more likely to be victims of these types of crimes, their plight is often ignored and their specific stories are missing from mainstream media, leading to even further victimization.
The core theme of the #WhyWeWearRED campaign is the critical link between the lack of visibility in mainstream media and increased levels of violence against Native and Indigenous Women. If an Indigenous woman goes missing and her story is not widely distributed, this in turn leads to lower chances of apprehending the perpetrator, and both she and her story are lost forever.
If Native and Indigenous women are excluded from mainstream media, their victimization is compounded because predators receive the message that this class of victims does not matter. To combat this problem, Red Nation Celebration Institute works diligently to increase the profile of the Native narrative in all types and forms of media. This campaign is broad-ranging in scope and impact given the 500-plus tribes and Native and Indigenous communities across the nation.
The campaign furthers RNCI’s goal of increasing the visibility of Native and Indigenous women, and, by bringing the issue forward, educates Americans to transform the ways in which the underlying problem is addressed.
Native Women in FILM & Television #WhyWeWearRED Call to Action and media coalition founded on January 7, 2018, by humanitarian/actress/producer/director/founder Joanelle Romero of Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI), now in its 27th year 2022! RNCI is the longest standing Native Media Arts & Cultural nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, with an office in Santa Fe New Mexico, with strong bases of support in North America and Europe.
Joanelle Romero has been curating films for the last 27 years with her FESTIVAL (s) RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival and Native Women in Film & Television in All Media including her Red Nation Television Network a streaming media and production company. RNCI is Native women-led Indigenous owned and operated enterprise.
August 2018, then Congresswoman Deb Haaland, now Madam Secretary partnered with Native Women in Film & Television in All Media #WhyWeWearRED Call to Action. NWIFT Why We Wear RED Call to Action and its Media Coalition had its first press conference in Santa Fe during Indian Market with Congresswoman Deb Haaland and others.
Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico on the unceded territories of the Mescalero Apache and Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambé, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, Zuni 19 pueblos.
Along with Native communities, others have followed suit in wearing a red hand across their face and using the #WhyWeWearRED hashtag, making it a global Call to Action!
Why We Wear RED and its National Media Coalition is an advocacy group devoted to securing the freedoms, human rights, protecting American Indian culture and the environment while increasing and improving portrayals of American Indian & Indigenous women in the media, including advocating for communications policies.
Humanitarian, Joanelle Romero creator of Why We Wear RED©, Native Women in FILM©, Native Women in Film & Television in All Media©, coined #WhyWeWearRED©, #NativeWomenInFilm©, #NativeWomenInFilmTV© and is the sole property of Red Nation Celebration Institute.