Q'orianka Kilcher, best known for her role as Pocahontas in Terrence Malick's 2005 movie The New World, has been arrested this morning at the White House. Kilcher tied herself to the White House fence while her mother poured black paint symbolizing oil all over her. The women were protesting, along with a big crowd of people, in light of President Obama's morning meeting with the President of Peru. You can read more about that on my post here - but the simplified version is that the Peruvian government has been approving for years the vast destruction of the Peruvian Amazon at the hands of oil companies who are destroying the land and native people with enormous oil and mining projects. Not only are they hiding the deaths of tons of native Peruvians who have no say in the project, but the government has also killed many of the protesters.
Kilcher, whose father is Peruvian, has stated in the past that she wished President Obama would get involved and take action. After all part of this disastrous situation is due to the U.S.'s free trade agreement with Peru, and as Kilcher stated on Democracy Now...
"I started trying to highlight the over-thirty-five-year-long struggle that the Achuar community was facing with Occidental Petroleum, a Los Angeles-based company, you know, drilling there, using practices outlawed in the United States, pumping an average of 850,000 barrels of toxic waste in one day on one block alone, and dumping it into the rivers, not using reinjection."
Its sadly an old story, wherein the U.S. doesn't follow its own laws when on someone else's soil.
Both women were arrested - Q'orianka for disorderly conduct and her mother for defacing government property. For those of you unfamiliar with civil disobedience this is a good thing. No one would even know there was a protest at the white house today if Q'orianka and her mother had not been there getting arrested. News reporters need star power to bother writing about things.
Its also interesting to think about this story in the context of her role as Pocahontas. My generation grew up generally understanding that Columbus was a bad guy for slaughtering the Native Americans, but as Kilcher puts it - that's just called Globalization these days. The world loves seeing 14 year old Pocahontas getting Stockholm syndrome for her captors and dieing a tragic and beautiful death.
Yet, the now 20 year old Q'orianka is part of my generation and she's not going to go with the flow. She brought intelligence and respectability to her role as the naive Pocahontas and she continues to bring a level of substance to her career as actress and activist.
Here's a video of one of her trips to Peru. It shows some of the damages to the land.