Indigenous native peoples around the world face numerous serious challenges, with one of the most difficult questions being, how do you maintain your language, tradition and a unique cultural identity while also engaging with the dominant, increasingly globalized culture? For the old ways and stories to be passed on, you must capture the imagination of the next generation, and it can be pretty hard to compete with Hollywood movies, TV and the Internet. In response to this cultural erosion, a number of indigenous peoples are turning to video games to teach the outside world, and their own kids, about their culture and legends.
The latest indigenous group to tell their story through gaming are the previously isolated, secretive Kaxinawá of Brazil and Peru. The Kaxinawá have combined forces with anthropologists from the University of São Paulo and video game developers to create a platformer entitled Huni Kuin: The Way of the Snake (Huni Kuin is a phrase the Kaxinawá use for themselves in their language). The Kaxinawá were directly involved in the creation of the game, with a council of around 30 members consulting on the game’s art, script and music. Kaxinawá people also provide the game’s narration in their native language. Honestly, the game looks a bit rough, but still, it’s heartening to see marginalized people like the Kaxinawá getting to express themselves in a modern way.
Huni Kuin: The Way of the Snake will be released for free on April 16 for PC and Mac. Here’s the game’s website (it’s in Portuguese, but Google Translate is your friend).