When Taika Waititi set off for Australia to film Thor: Ragnarok, he insisted upon employing Aboriginal crew members. Back in August, the director told BuzzFeed he felt a certain responsibility to the Indigenous people: “You’re coming to a country and you’re bringing money into the economy and creating jobs, but I think you have an even bigger responsibility to look after the people that have less opportunities.” And it looks like the conscientiousness of the New Zealander, whose father is Māori, has influenced his film’s lead. Thor star Chris Hemsworth joined Waititi in issuing a message of support for the Indigenous people of the United States, many of whom are in the midst of a months-long protest in Standing Rock, one of the sites of the proposed Dakota Pipeline.
The DAPL would cross over 1100 miles in this country, from the Bakken shale fields to Illinois, carrying 500,000 barrels of crude oil. In doing so, it threatens the livelihood of the Sioux, who have been trying to protect their access to water as well as preserve their culture. The Sioux have been joined in peaceful demonstrations by supporters, including members from 200 Indigenous nations. The protests have carried the message “mni wiconi,” or “water is life,” a rallying cry that Hemsworth took up with Waititi on Instagram.
In addition to his show of support, Hemsworth also owned up to past, culturally-insensitive indiscretions. The actor admitted to having dressed as an Indigenous person for Halloween at a “Lone Ranger-themed” party. He says he hopes “highlighting [his] own ignorance can help in some small way.” Hemsworth offered up the earnest apology on his own—he didn’t need to be confronted with pictures of questionable past actions. So there are no jokes here—move along.