Stereotypes of Native Americans have continued through to the 21st century with films like Dances with Wolves (1990), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and Pocahontas (1995). In films like these and other popular culture, Native Americans appear with feathers in their hair, in tribal dress, sometimes with war paint, mohawks, tomahawks, bows and arrows and survive with the shelter from tepees. Basic Native American stereotypes also involved practices such as smoking from a peace pipe, chanting primitively, or an idea that Indians worship nature. With stereotypes like these, other stereotypes seemed to follow such as the idea that all Native Americans worshiped nature like the sun, trees, and animals, and also that all natives possessed some sort of funny Indian name that they had chosen. While these stereotypes still exist, other stereotypes have also created a negative image for Native Americans. Some of these involve being lazy, savage-like, not being to handle their alcohol, have no sense of money, and are soft spoken or quiet.
[...] One common stereotype used in popular culture is that of the Indian princess. In the story of Pocahontas a Native American woman sacrifices her relations with her tribe in order to save John Smith, a white colonist. Pocahantas was the daughter of Powhatan, an Algonquian chief who lived a relatively short life. When the Disney version came out on film, Pocahontas was depicted as a beautiful woman who could communicate with nature and the animals around her. She was a beautiful, young, and intelligent maiden who was somehow deeply committed to the white man. [...]
[...] However, the role of an Indian woman in the household was equally as important as the role of an Indian warrior on the battlefield. Instead of being housewives, the household lives of women regularly corresponded with their religious beliefs or the battlefield. During the rise of the Aztecs, Mexica people were very familiar with the battlefield, and the rituals Mexica women preformed regularly reflected this. For example, brooms in the Mexica household were seen as weapons as it was the housewife's defense against invading dirt and disorder, peripheral forces that, like the enemies of the state, threatened the maintenance of order and centrality” (Burkhart 35). [...]
[...] To claim that Indian women were submissive and passive in the economic, social, and political realms of their societies was simply untrue. In fact, there are stories of women having criminal records, an area that is usually stereotypes as a male dominated sphere. In colonial Oaxaca, Mixtec and Zapotec women were not only filing charges as plaintiffs against violence directed towards them, but women also challenged authority. Although the myth of the Amazons and later literature painted Indian women as friendly, rebellions proved otherwise. [...]
[...] Most importantly, it was inconsistent with the submissive Indian princess that popular culture and literature portrayed. Colonists were not the only people involved with violence against these Indian women. It was also prevalent between Indian men and women, mostly unions between husband and wife. According to Taylor in Lisa Mary Sousa's article, eighteenth century violence against women showed that percent of all homicide victims in the Mixteca Alta were female, usually the wife of lover of their murder” (Sousa 213). [...]
[...] The Indian princess was seen as away to further the white man's cause, and if Native American women didn't fit into this stereotype then they fit into one of the other many stereotypes such as the shadowy and lustful squaw, the half breed female who tragically did not fit in the white world or Indian world, or the old mean hag who doesn't like white men. When these characters appear in popular culture they are usually used to continue colonial ideals such as to facilitate more important white characters. [...]
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