Rethinking of Stereotypes

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Although it has become a clich in recent years Winston Churchill’s famous quote, History is written by the victors. Is very prevalent in the way that indigenous peoples in North America have been portrayed in films, text books, non-fiction novels, and other forms of media. While it would be financial and political suicide to create a film similar to a John Wayne western classic where an overly macho, gun-slinging hero wages war against the local indigenous tribe to rectify an arbitrary wrong would, unfortunately reaffirm the view that some Americans have towards Native Americans. In simpler terms indigenous peoples have been depicted as faceless, generic enemies to the American way of life.

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In the introduction to First Peoples Colin Calloway discusses in detail the master narrative which simply put is the exclusion of some or all perspectives on an event in history. While the intent is not necessarily negative, the lasting effects of omitting pieces of history can still be seen today in the way that indigenous peoples are viewed. Calloway argues that a driving factor in the lack of consideration for indigenous perspectives is that the tragic history of Native Americans does not fit the uplifting and proud tone of most history books (Calloway, p. 3). To clarify, the Euro-centric American narrative emphasizes discovery and rugged individualism and to go into detail describing how for every triumph of an American explorer leads to a tragedy for Indigenous Peoples takes away from the message that many textbook authors are trying to convey.

An excellent example of the omission of Native American perspective leading to a harmful belief is the story or Roger’s Raid which was discussed in class. Due to hubris or stupidity following his attack on a French missionary and Abenaki village Robert Rogers claimed to have wiped out the village killing 200 Abenaki. Rogers’ belief was completely wrong and he killed closer to twenty people. Although the French were quick to claim that only twenty had been killed Rogers’ account of events was widely believed. The harm in this being that the Abenaki village was small and that by claiming that he and his rangers had killed 200 people Rogers much alive with members of the tribe living mostly in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and New Brunswick. However, this example shows how easily Indigenous Peoples can be written off and assumed have died off.

In addition to the exclusion of their perspectives Indigenous People also suffer from a number of stereotypes that contribute to the fallacy that they have disappeared and are no longer part today’s society. Thanks in part to outdated films and other forms of media Native Americans are often viewed as uncivilized and primitive compared to European settlers. This stereotype makes it hard for an individual to picture Indigenous People as being a part of today’s society. Many of the stereotypes that one encounters on a day to day basis, although misinformed and ignorant, stem from relatively recent facets of life. For example, all members of fraternities are often considered to be binge drinkers with little regard towards any aspect of life that does not immediately impact them. Like all stereotypes this view of fraternity members does not tell the whole story, however it affirms that the group exists in the modern world. Stereotypes regarding Indigenous Peoples have not evolved to modern day. As a result when someone intends to insult Native Americans with a stereotype they are left using old, outdated stereotypes and in the process are not indirectly affirming that the group they are insulting is still alive.

While images and films where indigenous people are portrayed as savage pre-humans have fallen out of favor and generally would not be accepted by the public, the damage caused by old textbooks and out dated views have taken their toll. Some Native Americans are making an effort to dispel the notion that Indigenous People are not part of society today. One example of this the musical band Red Bone. The first stereotype that they indirectly break is that Native Americans are not successful in the United States. Their hit song Come and Get Your Love has found a resurgence in popularity thanks largely to it being featured heavily in the sound track of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The second stereotype Red Bone challenges is that all Indigenous music consists of sad folk music and traditional songs. By creating a hit rock song Red Bone proves that Native American culture can and does focus on positive aspects of life and fits into modern society.

This of course is just a small glimpse into the revisionist history that has plagued history books for decades. Unfortunately, many more examples of this type of thinking is presented or forced upon the public in today’s political and consumeristic world, attempting to mold our opinions and habits to benefit someone’s agenda while undermining a people’s civil rights.

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Rethinking Of Stereotypes. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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