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The Wonder of "Wonderfalls"

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  • Rob
    Indian Comics Irregular #113 One of the highlights of the last TV season was the WB s mid-season replacement series, Wonderfalls. Set at Niagara Falls, it
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2004
      Indian Comics Irregular #113

      One of the highlights of the last TV season was the WB's mid-season
      replacement series, "Wonderfalls." Set at Niagara Falls, it revolved
      around a young woman who worked in a tourist shop. Although Indians
      appeared only in the first episode's prologue, the show was based on a
      Native legend.

      In that prologue, protagonist Jaye recounted the story of Niagara's
      Maiden of the Mist. As a website explains it:

      Iroquois legend tells of a maiden who loved the Thunder God, HE-NO,
      who made his home in a cave behind the great Falls. Much to her
      disappointment, the maiden's father, however, promised her in
      marriage to a brave.

      Rather than marry the mortal, the maiden canoed over the cataract,
      at which time HE-NO caught her spirit, taking her to live with him
      in his watery cave.

      (He-no is the same Iroquois god to whom Arak, the Native comic-book
      hero, prayed. Roy Thomas, the writer who created Arak, clearly did
      his homework. See ICI #79 for details.)

      The Spirit Moves Them

      Jaye's troubles began when she dropped a quarter into a pool watched
      over by a Maiden of the Mist statue. Inanimate objects (a plastic
      lion, a toy monkey, a stuffed fish) started talking to her and telling
      her what to do. Good things happened when she followed their advice,
      but she remained mystified about what was going on.

      When Jaye confided her predicament to her friend Mahandra, the latter
      said she didn't find the talking tchotchkes strange. The following
      dialog ensued:

      MAHANDRA: I think it's natural to embody the world around us with
      consciousness.

      JAYE: You do?

      MAHANDRA: Yeah. It's all that tree-hugging crap. Like when the
      Native Americans--

      JAYE: Indians.

      MAHANDRA: --like when Indians say that everything has a soul. The
      wind, your cell phone, the little smooshed-faced lion--they all have
      souls.

      Yes. According to traditional Native belief, all things have life and
      a spirit or soul. So Native spirituality was animating this show just
      as it animated the objects.

      That Jaye corrected "Native Americans" to "Indians" was also a nice
      touch. It reflected her contrary nature and lack of political
      correctness. It also reflected what most Indians call themselves.

      Unfortunately, the WB canceled "Wonderfalls" after only four episodes
      because of low ratings. But the full complement of 13 episodes may
      appear on DVD someday.

      America's No. 1 Political Prisoner

      On its Jan. 15 episode about presidential pardons, "The West Wing"
      (ICI #70) discussed Leonard Peltier. Oh, the show called him Gabriel
      Lessier, but the circumstances of his arrest and incarceration were
      almost identical to Peltier's.

      President Bartlet and his wife were sympathetic to Lessier's cause,
      and wanted to pardon him. Alas, they decided they couldn't for
      political reasons.

      Multicultural Recommendations

      Retired educator Sherry York has written several guides to
      multicultural literature. In a column on Native American Heritage
      Month, she listed her favorite Native titles, authors, publishers, and
      websites. Among them were "Blue Corn Comics and Peace Party, a comic
      series with Native American writers, artists, and advisors."

      Speaking of websites, we recently added the 1,250th page to
      BlueCornComics.com and are now past 1,300. That makes our site one of
      the biggest in existence on Indians and comics. If you haven't
      visited recently, check it out.

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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