I spotted this video, “Bares, Broncs and Bulls in the Navajo Nation”, over at Hypebeast this morning. After viewing some of the Native influenced fashion featured in Levi’s new collection, I was curious to see what this documentary, produced by Levi’s with VBS.TV, was all about. While it is nice to see the Native American lifestyle featured on such a broad platform, I think the filmmakers may have missed an opportunity to not discuss the problems that have reached pandemic proportions on many reservations across the country. As someone with firm familial Native American ties, I have my reservations about this project.
Sure, it was produced by Levi’s, and the filmmakers wanted to paint a romanticized version of the modern American Indian cowboy, but what about the drug abuse, domestic violence and gang warfare? If these issues aren’t included in the full documentary, my own conclusions would be that the more difficult parts of reservation life were excluded from the film, and at that point, isn’t it just all about selling clothes while exploiting a group that has already been exploited enough? I’d be curious to know how the Navajo nation will benefit from Levi’s through all of these endeavors. I hope that donations have been made to help build up infrastructure on reservation land. Of the 5 poorest counties in America, 4 are Native American reservations. I would love to see a mainstream documentary tackle these issues.