Native Americans in popular culture

Published on November 5, 2014 by Carol

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Broken Arrow (1950)

The portrayal of Native Americans in popular culture has traditionally oscillated between the fascination with the noble savage, who lives in harmony with nature, and their depiction as uncivilized “bad guys” in the traditional Western genre.

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History

In 1851, Charles Dickens wrote a scathingly sarcastic review in his weekly magazine, Household Words, of painter George Catlin’s show of American Indians when it visited England. In his essay, entitled The Noble Savage, Dickens expressed repugnance for Indians and their way of life, recommending that they ought to be “civilized out of existence”. (Dickens’ essay refers to Dryden’s use of the term, not to Rousseau.) Dickens’ scorn for those unnamed individuals, who, like Catlin, he alleged, misguidedly exalted the so-called “noble savage”, was limitless. In reality, Dickens maintained, Indians were dirty, cruel, and constantly fighting among themselves. Dickens’ satire on Catlin and others like him who might find something to admire in the American Indians or African bushmen is a notable turning point in the history of the use of the phrase.

Eastern European-produced Westerns were popular in Communist Eastern European countries, and were a particular favorite of Joseph Stalin. “Red Western” or “Ostern” films usually portrayed the American Indians sympathetically, as oppressed people fighting for their rights, in contrast to American Westerns of the time, which frequently portrayed the Indians as villains. European works frequently featured Gypsies or Turkic people in the role of the Indians, due to the shortage of authentic Indians in Eastern Europe.

The concept of Native Americans living in harmony with nature was taken up in the 1960s by the hippie subculture and played a certain role in the formative phase of the environmentalist movement. The so-called Legend of the Rainbow Warriors, an alleged Hopi prophecy foretelling environmental activism, became popular, with most proponents unaware that the story is fakelore, written as part of an evangelical Christian tract, and an attempt to destroy traditional Native religions.

In the US cultural mainstream, negative depiction of Native Americans came to be seen as politically incorrect in the 1980s, as reflected in the production of western films emphasizing the “noble savage” such as Dances with Wolves (1990).

In US Media

The popular media in the United States have had a love/hate relationship with Native Americans.

Comics
Native American characters in comic books and comic strips include Akwas, a comic strip about Native Americans created by Mike Roy, and Super-Chief, an Indian superhero created for DC Comics.

Film
In films such as Northwest Passage (1940), Native Americans are the villains, attacking White settlers, often at the instigation of unscrupulous White men. But there are many Hollywood films that offer a more sympathetic picture. Most of the John Ford Westerns show respect toward American Indians, and they are the heroes of such major films as Broken Arrow (1950) and Dances With Wolves (1990). Probably the most famous “Indian” in American popular media is the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto, most famously portrayed by Native American actor Jay Silverheels.

Literature
James Fenimore Cooper featured a character called “The Sagamore” in his novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Rick, the protagonist of Simon Spurrier’s novel, The Culled (2006, book 1 of The Afterblight Chronicles), belongs to the Haudenosaunee people and is guided through crises by the sachem. Another character, named Hiawatha,[6] saves Rick’s life and advises him the Tadodaho have said Rick and Hiawatha are aligned.

Videogames
An Apache warrior named Nightwolf debuted in the videogame Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) and has been a recurring protagonist of the franchise. He is one of the few mortals who are spiritually aware, acting as a historian and shaman of his people. In the videogame Assassin’s Creed III (2012), set during the American Revolution, the protagonist is a half English, half Mohawk Native American named Ratonhnhaké:ton

Source: wikipedia

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged
Based on the collective work of NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
Cite This Source | Link To Native Americans in popular culture
Add these citations to your bibliography. Select the text below and then copy and paste it into your document.

American Psychological Association (APA):

Native Americans in popular culture NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 20, 2014, from NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com website: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Native Americans in popular culture NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com. NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/ (accessed: December 20, 2014).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Native Americans in popular culture" NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 20 Dec. 2014. <NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, "Native Americans in popular culture" in NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/. Available: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com. Accessed: December 20, 2014.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2014,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
    month = Dec,
    day = 20,
    year = 2014,
    url = {http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/},
}
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Native Americans in popular culture

Published on August 31, 2013 by Amy

Love this article and want to save it to read again later? Add it to your favourites! To find all your favourite posts, check out My Favourites on the menu bar.

Native Americans in Popular Culture
Native Americans in popular culture

The portrayal of Native Americans in popular culture has traditionally oscillated between the fascination with the noble savage who lives in harmony with nature and their depiction as uncivilized “bad guys” in the traditional Western genre.

dna testing, dna ancestry testing, ancestry, genealogy, indian genealogy records, paternity testing, turquoise jewelry, native american jewelry

In 1851 Charles Dickens wrote a scathingly sarcastic review in his weekly magazine Household Words of painter George Catlin’s show of American Indians when it visited England. In his essay, entitled “The Noble Savage”, Dickens expressed repugnance for Indians and their way of life in no uncertain terms, recommending that they ought to be “civilized out of existence”. (Dickens’s essay refers back to Dryden’s well-known use of the term, not to Rousseau.) Dickens’s scorn for those unnamed individuals, who, like Catlin, he alleged, misguidedly exalted the so-called “noble savage”, was limitless. In reality, Dickens maintained, Indians were dirty, cruel, and constantly fighting among themselves. Dickens’s satire on Catlin and others like him who might find something to admire in the American Indians or African bushmen is a notable turning point in the history of the use of the phrase.

Eastern-European-produced Westerns were popular in Communist Eastern European countries, and were a particular favorite of Joseph Stalin. “Red Western” or “Ostern” films usually portrayed the American Indians sympathetically, as oppressed people fighting for their rights, in contrast to American Westerns of the time, which frequently portrayed the Indians as villains. They frequently featured Gypsies or Turkic people in the role of the Indians, due to the shortage of authentic Indians in Eastern Europe.

The concept of Native Americans living in harmony with nature was taken up in the 1960s by the Hippie subculture and played a certain role in the formative phase of the environmentalist movement, notably the so-called Legend of Rainbow Warriors, an alleged Hopi prophecy foretelling environmental activism. In the US cultural mainstream, the negative depiction of Native Americans came to be seen as politically incorrect in the 1980s, as reflected in the production of western films emphasizing the “noble savage” such as Dances with Wolves (1990). In 1989 (reprinted 1993), Viesti Associates produced a poster listing “The Ten Indian Commandments”, a purported Native American counterpart of the biblical Ten Commandments. The ten points listed echo the cliché of the native living in ecological harmony.

Native Americans in US Media

The popular media in the United States have had a love/hate relationship with Native Americans. In many films, such as Northwest Passage, Native Americans are the villains, attacking White settlers, often at the instigation of unscrupulous White men. But there are many Hollywood films that offer a more sympathetic picture. Most of the John Ford Westerns show respect toward American Indians, and they are the heroes of such major films as Broken Arrow and Dances With Wolves. Probably the most famous “Indian” in American popular media is the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto, most famously portrayed by Native American actor Jay Silverheels.

There have been many Native American characters in comic books and comic strips, such as Super-Chief, an Indian superhero created for DC Comics, and Akwas, a comic strip about Native Americans created by Mike Roy.

An Apache warrior named Nightwolf debuted in the 1995 video game Mortal Kombat 3, and has been a recurring protagonist of the franchise. He is one of the few mortals that are spiritually aware, acting as a historian and shaman of his people.

In the 2012 video game Assassin’s Creed III, set during the American Revolution, the protagonist is a half English, half Mohawk Native American named Ratonhnhaké:ton.

Source: wikipedia

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged
Based on the collective work of NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
Cite This Source | Link To Native Americans in popular culture
Add these citations to your bibliography. Select the text below and then copy and paste it into your document.

American Psychological Association (APA):

Native Americans in popular culture NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 20, 2014, from NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com website: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Native Americans in popular culture NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com. NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/ (accessed: December 20, 2014).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Native Americans in popular culture" NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 20 Dec. 2014. <NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, "Native Americans in popular culture" in NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/. Available: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com. Accessed: December 20, 2014.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2014,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
    month = Dec,
    day = 20,
    year = 2014,
    url = {http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-americans-popular-culture/},
}
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