Stereotypes of indigenous people in North America
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Stereotypes of indigenous people are pervasive throughout North America. Indigenous peoples of the Americas include Inuit, Iñupiat, Cup'ik/Yup'ik peoples and American Indians, commonly called Native Americans or First Nations (in Canada). This article primarily discusses stereotypes present in Canadian and American culture.
In North America
Native Americans were also portrayed as fierce warriors and braves, often appearing in school sports teams' names until such team names fell into disfavor in the later 20th century. Many school team names have been revised to reflect current sensibilities, though professional teams such as American football's Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, baseball's Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians, and ice hockey's Chicago Blackhawks continue. Some controversial upper-level Native American team mascots such as Chief Noc-A-Homa and Chief Illiniwek have been discontinued; others like Chief Wahoo and Chief Osceola and Renegade remain. There is still a big controversy over the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
The Media Awareness Network of Canada (MNet) has prepared a number of statements about the portrayals of American Indians, First Nations of Canada and Alaskan Natives in the media:
- Westerns and documentaries have tended to portray Natives in stereotypical terms: the wise elder, the aggressive drunk, the Indian princess, the loyal sidekick, obese and impoverished. These images have become known across North America.
- Native Americans have been stereotyped as nature lovers or devoted environmentalists who believe that all people must respect it. This is shown in TV, comic books and video games.
- Hollywood's portrayal of the American West essentially used Native tribes as a malignant presence to be wiped out or reined in, or depicted as a form of local "wildlife".
- Western stereotypes of Native Americans tend to portray them as "trackers", with the ability to track and hunt down anything living. Notable examples in film are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Predator.
- Stereotyped issues include simplistic characterizations, romanticization of Native culture and stereotyping by omission—showing American Indians in a historical rather than modern context.
- Native Americans are perceived as rich per gaming revenues. Not all tribes own tribal gaming operations/establishments and many tribal groups have issues on not everyone of their tribal ancestry being able to obtain paychecks if they can't prove their tribal membership roll.
- Native American women are perceived as being sexually available and willing to have intercourse with any and every man. Such misconceptions lead to murder, rape and violence of Native American women and girls by non-Native men.
- Native American women are perceived as being slender and naive.
- Native Americans are perceived as having one identical look, one certain shade of skin color as well as having only straight, black hair.
- Native Americans are perceived as drug addicts. They are expected to smoke marijuana and other such illegal substances in their prayer pipes, which are erroneously labeled by non-Natives as "peace pipes".
- Native Americans are perceived as worshipping objects and beings they consider sacred.
- The claim that all Native Americans have a vast amount of knowledge about medicine, even surpassing modern medicine using items they find in nature.
- The assertion that Native Americans cannot grow facial hair is a common misconception and stereotype.
|“||What is more, many Europeans think that male Native Americans never shave but still do not have beards. The common explanation for this "miracle" is that they tear out their beards until they stop growing at all. To a large extent, these stereotypes are based on famous stories by Karl May ("Winnetou"), a German teacher who wrote innumerable novels about Native Americans in the 19th century. Interestingly, May had never seen Native Americans with his own eyes.||”|
—- 'Idaho Natives'
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
Inuit or Eskimo people are usually dressed in parkas, paddling kayaks, carving out trinkets, living in igloos, going fishing with a harpoon, hunting whales, traveling by sleigh and huskies, eating cod-liver oil and the men are called Nanook in reference to the documentary Nanook of the North. Eskimo children may have a seal for a best friend.
Eskimos are sometimes shown rubbing each other's noses together as some sort of greeting ritual (Eskimo kissing). They're also often depicted surrounded by polar bears, walruses and inaccurately, with penguins, which only live in the Southern hemisphere and not in the Arctic. Sometimes Eskimos themselves are depicted living on the South Pole, which is again wrong for the same reason.
- In the 1980s and 1990s, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) made efforts to improve the portrayals of Aboriginal people in its television dramas. Spirit Bay, The Beachcombers, North of 60 and The Rez used Native actors to portray their own people, living real lives and earning believable livelihoods in identifiable parts of the country.
- , Phi Delta Kappan, November 7, 2006, accessed February 14, 2011.
- *"American Indians and Alcohol"
- Media Awareness Network. "Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People"
- "Amerindian Pictures Painted by Those Who Were There". Hutchison Research Center. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- "Frequently Asked Questions - Page 2". WWW Virtual Library - American Indians, Index of Native American Resources on the Internet. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- "Iroquois History". Jordan S. Dill. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- "Native American Hairstyles". Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2009. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- "Idaho Natives: American movies help perpetuate European stereotypes". Idaho Natives. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- Geoffrey K. Pullum (9 July 1991). The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-68534-2. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- (Video games) The Top 7… Native American stereotypes, GamesRadar US, 2008-11-24