Earlier this week, Firaxis and 2K announced that the Cree would join the Civilization VI roster in Rise and Fall, becoming the first Native (North) American group represented in the game. In-game, the Cree are led by Poundmaker, who in real life led the people in the mid-19th century and worked to make peace with the Canadian government.
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Modern Poundmaker Cree Nation headman Milton Tootoosis is concerned with the peoples’ portrayal in-game, however. In an interview with CBC News, Tootoosis says initial excitement over the group’s inclusion turned sour when he realized how they would be represented in the game’s mechanics.
“It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has,” says Tootoosis, “and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land. That is totally not in concert with our traditional ways and world view.”
While Civilization’s sandbox nature has always offered a variety of ways to play, the most straightforward paths to victory involve proving military dominance, and it’s difficult to achieve more passive victory conditions without some aggressive expansion along the way. In Civilization VI, many of the Cree’s unique abilities and units are centered on building trade partners and strong alliances.
Tootoosis says that the portrayal isn’t all negative, but suggests that 2K should have contacted the community, and that no one from the First Nation was spoken to about their inclusion in the game. Of Poundmaker, Tootoosis says “he was certainly not in the same frame of mind as the colonial powers” he would be competing against in the game.
Today, the Cree Nation seeks a formal exoneration of Chief Poundmaker for a treason conviction received after the 1885 North-West Resistance. With the release of Rise and Fall offering more public awareness of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Tootoosis says the game’s role “could go either way. I certainly hope it helps more than it hurts the cause.”
The Poundmaker Cree Nation plan to consult with elders before making formal contact with 2K. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is scheduled to release February 8.