The American Indian College Fund wants Americans to stop overlooking Indigenous people and culture in its latest campaign by Wieden + Kennedy, launched Wednesday.
“This is Indian Country” aims to increase awareness of Indigenous people and issues during Native American Heritage Month (November) by drawing attention to Indigenous historical contributions and impact on modern day American culture, including the city of Manhattan and modern legislation.
Three spots, “This is Indian Country,” “Manhattan” and “Democracy, Indian Country” discuss the influence of Indigenous words, names, treaties and presence on modern American democracy and geography. Presented with backdrop images of American landmarks like Mount Rushmore and the Manhattan city-scape, a voiceover details the contributions and subsequent erasure of Indigenous culture.
The campaign, which also includes out-of-home and social media elements, is the last work on which David Kennedy, adland legend and co-founder of W+K, served as creative director before he passed last month. The account was a longtime passion of his that he continued to support into his retirement.
“For the narrative of American history to be inclusive and for Indigenous people to have equity in all areas of American life, our neighbors must know that we are here and acknowledge that there is work to be done to build a better and more equal society,” said Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund in a statement. “[This] campaign is intended to be an entry point for all people to greater understanding across the United States.”
The campaign was inspired by inequities Indigenous communities have faced over the past year, including being undercounted in the U.S. Census, undertreated during COVID and having their missing and murdered people underrepresented.
The American Indian College Fund is one of W+K’s longest-running accounts, and prior to his death, Kennedy served on its board of trustees. When he passed, his family asked that gifts and donations be directed to the fund.
A W+K representative was not immediately available for comment for this story.