The Digital World with Ryan Simon: The Significance of Native American Heritage in “Assassin’s Creed III”


With the recent announcement of Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed III,” the fifth entry into the tremendously successful game series, there was a surprise revelation: Connor, the main protagonist, is part Native American. A preview of the new “Creed” by Game Informer reveals that the French game development studio has set the game to take place between 1753 and 1783—during the American Revolution. Throughout this time period, various Native American tribes living within the boundaries of the thirteen colonies were put into harm’s way as white settlers began encroaching on their lands. Connor (known as Ratohnhaké:ton by his tribe) is described as half English and half Mohawk. He was raised by the Mohawk tribe, a Native American culture that still exists today in parts of Canada and New York.

What makes this an intriguing surprise is that there have not been many major mainstream pieces of Western media casting a Native American as a “hero.” Ubisoft describes Connor as a “freedom fighter,” and that “he’s not out for personal revenge” against the people who destroyed his village. It is refreshing to see a Native American depicted as a noble warrior and not as a mindless savage—a stereotype Western history books and films have convinced many people to believe. Since the plot of the game is profoundly inspired by real historical events and people, Ubisoft has a grand opportunity to create a precedent for future games to follow. If the game’s audience takes well to playing as a Mohawk warrior, it would not be surprising to see more games in the future starring Native American protagonists. There are still, however, opportunities for Ubisoft to skew the Native American image.

Ubisoft needs to be careful with handling the specifics of Connor’s Mohawk upbringing. In several images for the game, Connor can be seen with various weapons and garb inspired by the Mohawk culture. Ubisoft must make sure that they stay true to the Mohawk traditions in this regard in order to properly honor the Mohawk people. If other story elements are introduced in relation to the Mohawks, they should remain accurate to the Mohawk culture. Maintaining a strong consistency in how the Mohawks, the English and the Revolutionaries interacted with one another will be crucial in ensuring that Ubisoft delivers a game that is able to give players an unbiased look at the events that transpired during the American Revolution.

Game Informer’s interview with the developers of “Assassin’s Creed III” hints that the game’s story will not disappoint. Ubisoft is dedicated to having accurate and engrossing dialogue between characters in the game. They have confirmed that they hired historical script consultants and Native American actors to fill appropriate rolls. Ubisoft has gone as far as recording the traditional Mohawk language for particular scenes in the game. It seems that they have spared no expense to ensure that players are able to experience a truly unique and culturally accurate story. If Ubisoft is able to provide a compelling presentation of real Mohawk culture in the game, it may just inspire otherwise ignorant players to learn about the real nature of many Native American tribes.

“Assassin’s Creed III” may be one of the most culturally significant video games to ever be produced. With Ubisoft’s promise of historical accuracy fulfilled, their new game has an opportunity to present a proper recognition of Native American people and their plight. All signs point to an amazing experience. The game will be released this fall on Oct. 30, 2012.

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