Practicing Respectful Representation – Generation Justice

Recently, I found a tool called Guiding Principles for Engaging in Research with Native American Communities. The guide’s purpose is to serve the population of researchers interested in partnering with tribal communities across the United States.

Tamara Colaque behind the camera.

As a young multimedia maker and Generation Justice Fellow, I have to be aware of all issues when I represent other people’s stories. It is important for me to be transparent and respectful of all values. I believe this guide will help me partner with Native communities in a respectful manner.

As a multimedia maker, I’m conscious of the way I produce content and follow ethical practices.

The first project I ever produced was a documentary for my high school video class. This piece documented Walatowa voices on our ways of life. When I worked with my community for this, I made sure they were comfortable responding to my questions. This was my way to show respect for the person who kindly agreed to take part in the project.

At first, I was uncomfortable approaching tribal members to speak out. Once I finally found the courage to speak to them, I learned the greatest lessons about our tribal ways of life. Working on this project inspired me to to follow my path in multimedia storytelling.

Since then, I have made sure the work I produce is honest and positive for the community. Improving the representation of communities of color in media is one of my life’s goals.

The media we produce here at GJ also reflects these principles. Here at GJ, we believe in integrity. GJ believes in respecting all multicultural values to produce positive media that gives hope and love to our communities of color.

Sharing this guide may be one small step, but it is also a hopeful leap that will guide researchers and media makers to understand our Indigenous epistemologies more deeply.

When this is overstood, it will lead to more accurate and respectful representations of our cultures. When we strengthen these relationships, we knock down barriers for the next generations together.