Native American Popular Culture Analysis

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Introduction There seems to be no small amount of literature on how Native Americans are represented in our popular culture. Over the past several decades, Native Americans have been mythologized in films, TV, and other forms of popular media. And, “For the most part, the white man’s visual expressions of Native peoples have been dominant” (Boehme, et al. 1998:75). It is these depictions that have created a false impression of American Indians. As anyone could guess, the conquest of the American Frontier in the Old West is a period in this country’s history that has been mythicized in the media countless times. Historical issues like cultural genocide, colonization, and geographical displacement were the basis for creating these …show more content…
1998:77). In fact, it’s interesting to note that American Indians themselves objected to film portrayals from the very beginning. Even President Taft encouraged them to fight against the misrepresentations as shown in the moving picture theaters that were popular at the time. In his book, Custer Died for Your Sins, Vine Deloria states that “many white people claim Indian ancestry, usually by a grandmother who was an Indian Princess; most tribes were entirely female for the first three hundred years of white occupation” (Deloria, 1969:3). To sum it up, people believe that having an Indian ancestor will make them understand and relate to these people. But, what they don’t understand is that blood has nothing to do with it. The purpose of this study is to explore the history of and various positive/negative representations and stereotypes of Native Americans in popular culture and getting the perspective from Native American people. I will cover various examples of these representations through live display, cinema, television, video games, and music. The purpose is to give people a better understanding of this issue on what is the true identity of the …show more content…
While pop culture often portrays Native American men as fierce warriors and wise shaman/medicine men, their female counterparts are typically portrayed as beautiful Indian maidens. A good example is the Indian maiden on the cover of the Land O’ Lakes butter products. But representations of Native American women have had some real world consequences too. American Indian girls are also often subjected to derogatory sexual comments. Often times, they have been used for sex appeal, like sex symbol Raquel Welch in The Legend of Walks Far Woman. The “Indian Princess” myth has been greatly exaggerated in children’s films such as Disney’s version of Pocahontas (1995). Yet, it is these portrayals that are still praised by many non-natives seeking a “Cherokee princess” in their ancestries, in the hopes that it will make them truly understand and relate to Native Americans, referring back to what Deloria said. The Indian Princess is often portrayed as a Native beauty who is so infatuated with the white man, that she is willing to leave behind her old native way of life and marry into the new "civilized" white culture. They’re never portrayed as powerful characters, but instead are always lured into the desirable white culture. It wasn’t until the later part of the twentieth century that filmmakers started to realize that they had been portraying these types

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