My most recent exposure with Native American issues has been the publicity Native Americans have been given under President Obama’s administration. President Obama made it very clear that he would work very diligently to improve the relationship between the United States and tribal nations. He specifically wanted to improve the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives. His devotion to this issue brought about the Recovery Act, which made tribal quality of life its main priority. Even more recently, a group of Native Americans are petitioning the NFL to change its professional team name from the “Redskins” because they feel it is a racial slur. The team’s cheerleaders have been known to perform a mock rain dance and pretend to scalp its opponents. President Obama has publicly supported the group of Native American protesters by saying that if he owned the team he would change the name out of respect to Native Americans.
When I was in school, the most vivid memory of mine was when we would color turkeys and Indians. As a result, I equated the Thanksgiving Holiday with Native Americans, or as I was taught to call them-Indians. When I was in elementary school, I always anticipated our annual Thanksgiving play. Nonetheless, I learned very early on that the way Native Americans were portrayed was inappropriate. Students who played the Indians had their faces painted red. That was difficult for me to understand because I had never seen anyone with red skin. I remember asking one of my teachers why they did that and she replied, “Indians have red skin”. I remember thinking how exciting that must have been for them. At that point, I didn’t realize that painting the students face was an insult. I remember thinking back on this when I was in college and we were discussing the early portrayal of African Americans in stage plays. Caucasian actors blackened their faces with soot to portray African Americans.
I agree with the articles. Native Americans are often associated with casinos. Stereotypes of Native Americans are so common that it is difficult for many people to view Native Americans as productive, successful members of society. Early movies that depicted Native Americans did so with negatively. They were portrayed as wild savages, nearly naked, and riding horses that were just as wild as them. They were rarely allowed to speak; when they did speak it was in a broken language similar to that of a small child. This led to the further dehumanizing Native Americans in the eyesight of other people. I also agree that the negative depiction of Native Americans was no accident. It was in recent years that it dawned on me that Christopher Columbus did not discover America. I had never thought of the fact that America had already been discovered because it was inhabited by Native Americans.
Stereotypes can negatively affect people from any ethnic background. First, stereotypes can cause a person to feel as if they are worthless. Although many people like to believe that if a child is loved and taught to believe that he or she can become anything he/she wants he will be successful, but the sad reality is that when that child enters the real world he/she is greatly affected by what people say about him and how he’s is treated by people who are of no kinship. Most children who are teased or bullied are loved and nurtured at home; however, the outside taunting usually leads to emotional distress in the home setting. When a child grows up feeling unappreciated and dehumanized by society, he or she will inadvertently pass those feelings on to their next generation.