Native American SciFi

Elizabeth Lameman’s 2011 film, A Path Without End, shows audiences that Native American storytelling has long featured narrative elements that we find in science fiction, including space travel and beings from other worlds.

Similarly, Native Americans have many scientific traditions that play important roles on research historically and today. Wendy Makoon's Geniuz (2009), for example, uses the word gikendaasowin to describe Anishinaabe botany. Native American science fiction often uses Indigenous science, sometimes in contrast to European science, to inform narratives and critique colonization.

Nanobah Becker’s 2012 film, The 6th World, tells of a Navajo scientist, Tazbah Redhouse, who is part of the first crew to travel to Mars (a mission aided greatly by the Navajo Nation’s resources). Redhouse is tasked with taking care of a crop of corn that will produce oxygen for the ship during the trip and also be used to begin agriculture on Mars. Foreshadowed by one of Redhouse’s dreams earlier in the film, the corn mono-crop dies before the ship arrives, threatening both the mission and the lives of everyone aboard. Fortunately, Redhouse saves everyone by finding two pieces of “Indian corn,” secretly smuggled aboard when General Bahe of the Navajo Nation gave her a Navajo astronaut flag before the mission.

Becker's film makes clear that the Navajo’s knowledge of biodiversity in agriculture is not only scientifically advanced, but also knowledge needed by Western science to protect human and nonhuman life. Unlike agribusiness’ tendency towards mono-cropping, Navajo corn breeding emphasizes biodiversity.