I first saw Drew Hayden Taylor in the CBC POV documentary “Searching for Winnetou.” Available on CBC Gem, the episode followed Taylor as he explored the German obsession with Indigenous North Americans. The curious and entertaining documentary stuck with me for awhile. So, I was pleased to learn he was back on TV, this time as the star of his own series.
Going Native—debuting with the first of 13 episodes on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on APTN—finds the celebrated Anishinaabe humorist and author exploring how Indigenous Peoples have changed the world, and are re-shaping their culture today. Each instalment represents at theme; Saturday’s “Going Horse” tracks the history of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and equines, and includes interviews, stunning vistas and footage of Taylor scrambling to mount a horse.
“One of the problems I’ve personally had—as an Indigenous humorist—is a lot of the media coming both from the Indigenous community and about the Indigenous community, like novels, movies, etc., deal with a darker aspect of the First Nations communities dealing with the oppressed, depressed and suppressed nature of a lot of our stories and history,” Taylor says. “Having traveled to over 150 Indigenous communities across Canada and the United States, I’ve always been greeted with a laugh, a smile and a joke. It’s always been my firm belief that it’s been our sense of humour that has allowed us to survive some of those darker periods of our history.
“I know we have a sense of humour,” he continues. “We have a sense of whimsy, a sense of enjoyment of life that is not frequently witnessed by the dominant culture and that was one of the things I wanted incorporated into this series.”
That humour and enjoyment is shown in the sidelong glances between horse experts helping Taylor scramble onto a regal horse or the wonder in his face as he learns Indigenous Peoples were tracking their place in the galaxy for likely before Europeans were. Future episodes investigate architecture, music, food, fashion, business and pop culture, all delivered by Taylor, who has a twinkle in his eye and wonderment at the information he learns.
“The depth of knowledge that was available to our ancestors is truly stunning,” Taylor says. “I grew up in the Indigenous culture and I’m still learning so much about my own culture.”
Going Native airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on APTN.
Images courtesy of Ice River Films.