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SUMMARIZED INTER RACE ARTICLE

 

Picture property of Rose(Copyright-PEYAHKTIHK)

 

While walking down a street one day In Toronto, Eric Schweig was handed a card by a man who said he should audition for the movie THE SHAMAN'S SOURCE. He did and the outspoken young man was on a cinematic roll. Schweig is Native American and Caucasian. His mother was Inuit (Eskimo),and he was adopted as an infant by Caucasian parents, and raised in the little town of Inuvik, right above the Arctic Circle. Not withstanding his dual racial heritage,Schweig is passionate about his identification as a Native American man. He makes no apologies to those who would like to categorize or pigeonhole him, racially or artistically. Still, Schweig has not allowed other's attitudes to determine his self-worth and he has no time for bitterness. He took time from his busy schedule after shooting Mohicans to speak to an elementary school class about racism and respect for the environment."People are most afraid of what they don't know," he told the group of children. " What you are afraid of, you hate, and what you hate you end up hurting."

 

Schweig is working hard on making sure Native Americans are shown as people,and are not just "the flavor of the month" in film. He turned down a movie produced by Kevin Costner, a film about Pacific Islanders. He thought the dialogue was insulting to Indigeous people.He said to INDIAN COUNTRY Today' " there are better parts coming up.We can act a little more intelligent and not have these stupid monosyllabics comebacks. Now we can be intellectual or whatever we want to be and that's not a privilege either,that's a right."There is almost a weariness in his husky voice as he names the projects he has worked on." I am sick to death of period pieces," he says softly. Certainly he has shown he can carry a lead role in a historical format as he did in THE BROKEN CHAIN portraying Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. Chronicling a little known chapter in the history of the Iroquois Confederacy, Schweig proved he was more than a visual treat, but could really act. He also finished Indian Warrior and finally jumped into the 20th Century with Pontiac Moon, starring Ted Danson.

 

He knows his history too-about the matrilineal society many Indian people lived in and the importance of family an their support. Yet, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was in his 26 years, not a single movie is mentioned." It was leaving home", he says. So, where does the strength come form?"From inside myself." Indeed. One gets the impression that if the filmaking was no longer a positive in his life he could round up all the marbles and walk away from the game very easily. But for now, Eric Schweig is becoming noted for a few things in the film industry. He continues to speak out when native people are being taken advantage of. He demands movies about Native Amerian experience to be done with integrity and more native input.There is a quiet humour in Schweig's deep voice. By his own admission, he admits he is not the loud life of the party type. He is a man comfortable in his own skin with no apologies. Thank you. One gets the impression this man is no victim despite an uncomfortably difficult past.

When he slows down to a run, "I'd like to go to Australia and maybe ride a dirtbike and maybe bum around for awhile. So then, are there any myths or misconceptions he would like to shatter?? He thinks for a moment and then laughs heartily."Yeah, he chuckles, I am an Indian who really doesn''t like horses..."

 

 

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Copyright-Inter Race Article 1994

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Background song is Believe(from Cher's latest CD)