Tag Archives: Karl May

When in Doubt, Ask a Native Author! The Winnetou Debate

By Maryann Henck

After a storm of protests from enraged par­ents con­cern­ing issues of (mis)representation and cul­tur­al appro­pri­a­tion in the new children’s movie, The Young Chief Win­netou (2022), the Ger­man pub­lish­er, Ravens­burg­er Ver­lag, with­drew the com­pan­ion book and puz­zle to the film. Soon there­after, the main Ger­man TV sta­tion (ARD) announced they would no longer broad­cast the pop­u­lar Win­netou movies from the 1960s based on Karl May’s nov­els. Every­one seems to have their take on the cur­rent con­tro­ver­sy; yet, there’s been some crit­i­cism regard­ing issues of pater­nal­ism due to the lack of Native voic­es in the debate. That’s why the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Blog has gone direct­ly to the source and inter­viewed Drew Hay­den Tay­lor acclaimed Cana­di­an Anish­naabe author, fre­quent fly­er to Ger­many, and cre­ator of the doc­u­men­tary, Search­ing for Win­netou (2018).

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In a World Created by an Indigenous God: A Native Writer’s Take on Karl May’s Winnetou

By Maryann Henck

Pho­to Cred­it: Robert Fantinatto

It goes with­out say­ing that the Ger­mans’ unri­valled fas­ci­na­tion with the Native peo­ple of North Amer­i­ca is not exact­ly a well-kept secret. Case in point: the annu­al Karl May Fes­ti­vals in Bad Sege­berg and Elspe. But I’ve always won­dered whether this fas­ci­na­tion might be mutu­al. Spoil­er alert: It is.

In 2017, Anish­nawbe writer Drew Hay­den Tay­lor set out in search of Win­netou. What he found ranged from the amus­ing to the unset­tling. In oth­er words, the per­fect mate­r­i­al for his doc­u­men­tary film, Search­ing for Win­netou, where the fine line between appro­pri­a­tion and appre­ci­a­tion becomes a bit blurred. Curi­ous about the mak­ing of? Then click on our exclu­sive inter­view with the writer. Read more »