2K Games announced earlier this week that the Cree, led by Pîhtokahanapiwiyin—or Poundmaker, as he's more widely known—are being added to Civilization 6 in the upcoming Rise and Fall expansion. That does not sit well with the leader of the real-world Poundmaker Cree Nation, who told CBC News that the game's portrayal of Indigenous people is "very harmful," and based far more on Hollywood than on actual history.
"It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land," Headman Milton Tootoosis said. "That is totally not in concert with our traditional ways and world view."
"It's a little dangerous for a company to perpetuate that ideology that is at odds with what we know. [Poundmaker] was certainly not in the same frame of mind as the colonial powers."
As Nuclear Gandhi has taught us, Civilization isn't the sort of game that cleaves closely to historical accuracy. But the case of the Cree is more problematic than most, because it remains an extant civilization that continues to struggle with the gross inequities caused by colonialism. In that light, the ahistorical potrayal of the Cree as being on equal footing with other civilizations, jockeying for world domination, seems particularly galling.
Civilization 6: Rise and Fall appears set to portray Poundmaker and his people in a favorable, and relatively non-warlike light: Cree strengths lie in diplomacy and trade rather than military power. Tootoosis expressed hope that the game's presentation of Poundmaker's commitment to peace could help its efforts to have his 1885 conviction for treason officially overturned by the Canadian government. "It could go either way," he said. "I certainly hope it helps more than it hurts the cause."
The Cree aren't the first Indigenous nation to play a role in a Civ game: The Shoshone, Iroquois, and Sioux have all been portrayed in previous releases. But this does appear to be the first time that 2K has faced any backlash over the inclusion of an Indigenous North American people. The Poundmaker Cree Nation are waiting to consult with elders before contacting 2K with its concerns, according to the CBC report; I've reached out to 2K for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply.