Disney Signed A Contract With Indigenous Leaders Before Frozen 2

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Disney has been consciously trying for more diversity in their animated features over the last decade. 2009 saw the first African-American Disney princess in Tiana, who appeared in The Princess and the Frog, and the studio has looked far and wide for inspiration beyond European fairytales.

Moana, with its Polynesian setting, was perhaps the most prominent, but Frozen included influences from the Sámi people who are indigenous to Scandinavia. There’s a flip side to this diversity, though, with some accusing Disney of cultural appropriation – taking a people’s culture and commodifying it to make a quick buck. Now, with Frozen 2, it seems they’ve tried to be one step ahead of the curve.

A big focus of the movie are the Northuldra people, who are inspired by the same Sámi – just as in the original Frozen. And according to Upworthy, Disney entered into a contract with the Sámi people to guarantee their culture and traditions would be represented accurately. The contract (which you can read in full here) affirms that the stories and iconography used in the movie remain the property of the Sámi, that the benefits of the film be shared with them and that Frozen 2 will treat their culture with respect.

With this in mind, Disney have agreed to release a dubbed version of Frozen 2 in a Sámi language, credited them for their cooperation in making the movie, made sure that Sámi representatives attended the premiere and that there will be a cross-learning initiative.

It’s a pretty damn comprehensive agreement and should benefit both parties. With Disney notoriously protective of their public image, I imagine we’ll see further contracts like this in the future. Here’s hoping that after a long history of rightly being accused of exploiting other people’s stories, Disney will keep these pledges in mind for their next projects.

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