21st Century Race Gender Class and Ethnicity Issues for Native American Indians Essay

Pages: 4 (1065 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans

Native Media

Stereotypes and the Impossibility of Objective Identity: The Case of the Native American in Popular Media

The history of the United States, as most people the world over are well aware, has not exactly been a history of peaceful coexistence between divers groups of people with different perspectives, attitudes, and values. Though the country has been dubbed "the melting pot" and truly does support a very ethnically diverse population, its history has been more concerned with eliminating difference and creating similarities than it has been with preserving the individual cultures that came here to be "melted." Of course, there are certain ethnic strains that remain quite vibrant and noticeable, primarily in their culinary contributions: Italian restaurants, Mediterranean cuisine, Polish sausages and the now All-American hot dog: there is a tendency to celebrate certain aspects of the "foreign" cultures that help to make up this nation.

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There are two very interesting things to note about these multicultural "celebrations," however. First, they are almost always concerned with European cultures rather than acknowledging the broad array of people that actually make up the citizenry of the United States, and second, the positive aspects of certain cultures are often just as stereotypical and artificial as many of the negative aspects that have been pointed out and/or embellished for centuries. This has had major implications for the group of people that has suffered the longest at the hands of the Europeans' descendants on this continent: the Native Americans. Even their collective grouping and labeling is indicative of the stereotyping these peoples face.

TOPIC: Essay on 21st Century Race Gender Class and Ethnicity Issues for Native American Indians Assignment

For much of the United States' history and indeed the history of Europeans in the Americas, the many indigenous tribes of the continent were seen as savages -- uncivilized people that had no real sense of morality or values, and that still lived in primitive fashions without the luxuries or economic productivity afforded by modernization. In truth, many tribes had flourishing civilizations, some with substantial villages and cities (especially in South America), and there were highly codified rules of behavior, government, and values. The fact that these values and systems of authority were markedly different from the Europeans' led to the labeling of these peoples as savages. Towards the middle of the twentieth century, however, public sentiment began to shift, and certain elements of Native American culture -- their far more symbiotic relationship with nature and elements of their mysticism especially -- began a new round of positive stereotyping that is damaging and disrespectful in a new way.

Little House on the Prairie

Based on a book series by a woman that actually lived in "Indian country" and the white settlements that followed, Little House on the Prairie was a popular television series in the 1970s and 80s. Its portrayal of Native Americans was highly positive and explicitly apologetic for the manner in which native tribes had been treated by white settlers and the United States government; while this was not the main focus of the show, several episodes throughout the run of the series dealt with these issues. This led to a complex representation of Native Americans on the show that, although sympathetic, was ultimately unauthentic.

On the one hand, several episodes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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21st Century Race Gender Class and Ethnicity Issues for Native American Indians.  (2011, February 18).  Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/21st-century-race-gender-class-ethnicity/942

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"21st Century Race Gender Class and Ethnicity Issues for Native American Indians."  Essaytown.com.  February 18, 2011.  Accessed October 24, 2021.