Comics “a natural step then for me to be able to better portray myself”: Creating an awareness that Indigenous people should be involved – Anishinaabe people (USA)

Elizabeth LaPensée wanted to see her Indigenous self portrayed in comics and video games so she became a game developer and comic book creator. (Red Works)

Elizabeth LaPensée didn’t see Indigenous people portrayed accurately in comics, so she wrote her own

When she was a little girl playing video games and reading comics, Elizabeth LaPensée didn’t see herself reflected. So, she resolved to change that. LaPensée, who is Anishinaabe and Métis,  is a professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University. She makes video games, comics and edits anthologies to promote the work of other Indigenous creators. | Read the full story and listen to a podcast on CBC radio (Canada) >>

Indigenous representing Indigenous

Her love of comics also threads through her video games. Her latest project is called, When Rivers Were Trails, and is in 2D artwork that requires players to interact with a map to make their way through the game. The characters, all from various nations, were written by 24 Indigenous writers.

 
When Rivers Were Trails is an educational adventure game that follows an Anishinaabeg in the 1890s who is displaced from Fond du Lac in Minnesota to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities. (Elizabeth LaPensée, art by Weshoyot Alvitre)

When Rivers Were Trails is an educational adventure game that follows an Anishinaabeg in the 1890s who is displaced from Fond du Lac in Minnesota to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities. (Elizabeth LaPensée, art by Weshoyot Alvitre)

“It has been really important to have Indigenous writers who are from those nations representing themselves through this game.”

LaPensée said as more Indigenous people create comics and games, more commercial level companies are reaching out to find Indigenous consultants.

“At the very least we are building more capacity and more awareness that [Indigenous] people should be involved, preferably from the beginning of the project,” she said.

But LaPensée ultimately wants to see Indigenous people as the lead artists, designers, writers, and contributors that are paid equally. […]

When Rivers Were Trails Trailer from Elizabeth LaPensée on Vimeo.

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