October 28th, 2020 Last Updated on: October 28th, 2020
Finally! Native America is coming to a preschooler near you!
Spirit Rangers, an animated Netflix series for preschool-aged children, will be a breath of fresh air, especially for those patiently waiting for there to be more Native American representation in the media.
The show, which doesn’t have an exact release date just yet, is created, written, and artistically and musically produced by an all-Native cast. All actors as well as other crew members are also Native.
Historically, Natives have typically been “the sidekick” and have had small parts in movies and television shows; even the animated ones. But this changes things up.
Karissa Valencia, the creator of Spirit Rangers, tells the following in an interview:
“As a Native Storyteller, I’ve rarely come across the opportunity to tell my own story. I am forever grateful to be given the chance at Laughing Wild and can’t wait for everyone to meet our funny modern Native family in Spirit Rangers.”
Valencia shares that the storyline is about three siblings who go on adventures and “shape-shift into their animal spirit form.”
Molly of Denali, which is a children’s show on PBS and initially aired in 2019, also featured Native American characters, who teach young children lessons through their adventures in Alaska.
Photo Credit: PBS via Comic Years
According to an article in the LA Times, “Gillim and Waugh (co-creators of Molly of Denali), both white, knew they would need help telling stories not their own. About 70 Alaska Native people work on the show, across every level of production. Indigenous actors play every Native character on the series.”
There is great importance in continuing to encourage minorities and people of color, like Native Americans, to represent their cultures through various forms of media. It allows young people from those cultures to feel seen and represented. It creates pride and acknowledgment. And for those from other cultures, it increases awareness and educates.
The more often Native Americans step out into the light and show the world their culture through storytelling, music, and art, hopefully, the younger generation will as well; and the misrepresentation and a lack of representation of Natives that there currently is will no longer be an issue.
Creating shows like Spirit Rangers and Molly Denali for children will encourage young viewers to be more accepting of other cultures and will show them that their own family may not be that much different than the characters on the show.
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