22 January 2014

Images of Native Americans in US Cinema

The handling of American Indians and American Indian subject matter within the context of commercial U.S. cinema is objectively racist at all levels, an observation which extends to television as well as film. In this vein it is linked closely to literature, both fictional and non-fictional, upon which may if not most movie scripts are at least loosely based. In a very real sense, it is fair to observe that all modes of projecting concepts and images of the Indian before the contemporary American public fit the same mold, and do so for the same fundamental 'real world' reasons. This essay will attempt to come to grips with both the method and the motivation for this, albeit within a given medium and examining a somewhat restricted range of the tactics employed. The medium selected for this purpose is commercial cinema, the technique examined that of stereotypic projection. The matter divides itself somewhat automatically into three major categories of emphasis. These may be elucidated as follows.