Teaching Indigenous Culture in Germany

For more than a century, the stories of one man have influenced the image of Indigenous people from North America in German culture. The author Karl May (1842 – 1912) made up the fictional characters of Winnetou, a noble and strong Apache chief, and his blood brother Old Shatterhand, a German settler in the USA. Generations of Germans were fascinated by the adventures of the Native American & his friend, their names probably as well-known in Germany as Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter in England. However, neither the Winnetou movies, nor the regular Karl-May-Festspiele (Karl May festivals), nor the original books have much to do with reality. Winnetou is a fantasy tale of the “Wild West” written by a man who, when publishing the first Winnetou story, had never travelled to North America. While the movies and books can be criticized for their historical misrepresentation & inauthentic images, Karl May’s stories have helped to create among some Germans a very romantic picture and a fascination for the cultures as well as spirituality of Aboriginal Peoples in North America. Lyndon J. Linklater from Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan had the opportunity to travel to Germany with his wife Terri Bear Linklater (Muskoday First Nation) to teach Germans about his culture as well as the real traditions and history of First Nations in Canada. In this Postillion, he talks about his experiences, the hospitality he felt in Germany, and new friendships he made.
To read the interview, click here.
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