The Imagery of Native People: Historical Perspective

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How the Imagery of Native People Emerged from the Crucible of the 19th Century

Native Americans faced discrimination in the United States throughout the nineteenth century. When the African American males were granted franchise in the year 1868, the clause in the fourteenth Amendment declaring that “except Indians not taxed” barred Native American men from voting (Genovese, 1). Indigenous tribes, on the other hand, were treated as independent organizations that had to accept agreements to build Native American reservations on US territory. Native American rights and the disposition of territories owned by Native American were also hotly debated in American journals and newspapers during the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the voices of indigenous Americans were rarely heard, and portrayals of Native Americans, surprisingly also by people advocating for their rights, were loaded with racist imagery and language.

How the Imagery of Native Americans Has Changed in Advertising

Throughout history, American advertising has used visuals and language to describe many ethnic and racial groups. In today’s world, many of these images of non-white people would be considered racist and stereotyped. The cigar store Indian was one of the first uses of Native American iconography in advertising and marketing (Hansen, 63). This logo is similar to other distinguishing signs for various types of commercial enterprises, such as three gold balls for pawnshops and candy-striped poles for barbershops. The Symbols first originated in medieval Europe, when most people were illiterate and merchants needed a simple way to indicate the types of goods or services they offered. Cigar store Indians’ use continued to dwindle as public space restrictions forbade their use on sidewalks, and by the twentieth century, they had all but vanished. The majority of today’s cigar store Indians are collectors of items from museum collections or artefacts given to Native American culture enthusiasts.

How the Imagery of Native Americans has Changed as Mascots in Sports

Since the initial years of 1960s, the use of first-nation and Native American images as mascots in sports teams has sparked various heated discussions in the United States. Indigenous civil rights movements began during this time, and indigenous Americans as well as their supporters disapproved on the use of images and names in humiliating ways and settings. They’ve also held several protests and worked to enlighten the public concerning the problem. The disgust of particular terminology, performances, and images has been frequently highlighted in the media, but only in relation to Native Americans. As a result, the threat to one’s emotions and personal beliefs have been reduced.

Additionally, it is prevented by a better comprehension of the context and history of the usage of Native American images and names in sports, as well as the reasons why sports teams should refrain from doing so. According to a social science study, sports mascots and iconography are essential symbols having greater social and psychological implications in the society. Furthermore, proponents of mascots frequently remark that they want to appreciate and respect Native Americans by highlighting positive attributes like fighting spirit, strength, and bravery. Opponents view these features as founded on stereotypes associated with Native Americans such as savages. Overall, these social sciences recognize that each and every ethnic stereotype, both negative and positive, are damaging. This general assertion is since these stereotypes create false relationships between an attribute and a group, establishing an inconsiderate connection.

How the Imagery of Native Americans Has Changed in Cinema

The Indian Hollywood is a fictional stock character, caricature, and portrayal of Native Americans that has appeared in television and cinema, particularly in the genre of Western people. The Hollywood Indian is a representation of Native American popular culture in both the present and the past. The stereotype has experienced major modifications from the dawn of cinema to the current day, and is closely linked to tales and pictures made about indigenous Americans as well as the Wild West. Since the beginning of the industry, Native Americans have been attacked for their employment of stereotypes ranging from aggressive barbarians to decent, peaceful, and noble savages. Additionally, the portrayal of these initial Americans in the film industry has been condemned for apparent systematic and structured flaws defined as the rethinking of Native-centered articulations of autonomy and self-representation that address the powerful ideology of mass media, has been used by contemporary native filmmakers.

Primary Attributes of Native People in Visual Images and How These Images Evolved

Pre-Columbia Americans employed fir and fire drills, the domesticated dog, stone fire instruments of various kinds, harpoon, basketry, and pottery in their technology and material culture. Many original American tribes exercised gathering and hunting, while the others worked on agriculture (Chirikure, 164). Beans, maize (corns), turkeys, potatoes, squash, and a variety of semi-domesticated seed-bearing plants and seeds were among the animals and plants that American Indians domesticated. These and other resources were used to help communities as diverse as small hamlets and cities like Cahokia.

When European invasion of the Americas began in the sixteenth century, indigenous peoples lived all over the Western Hemisphere. The impacts of epidemic sickness, military invasion, and enslavement killed them quickly. They were subjected to discriminatory legal and political laws, just like other colonized people, long into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Nonetheless, they have been among the most effective and engaged in bringing about political change and restoring their independence. Land ownership, education, the legislation, and the rebirth of traditional culture are all examples of this regaining of autonomy.

Markers of the Transformation and Changes in the Representation of Native Americans

Colonization was a key factor in the alteration of Native Americans’ characteristics. The initial North America inhabitants underwent great suffering due to European colonialism. As a result, their culture and lifestyle were irreversibly changed within a short time period. Diseases, land loss, and imposed rules that contradicted their culture were all elements that contributed to these changes. After the arrival of the Europeans, new diseases were introduced to the native people. This indigenous Americans were unaware of the diseases that resulted in a large number of deaths owing to a lack of immunity. The Europeans also introduced wine, horses, and rifles, altering the Native Americans’ way of life, particularly hunting for food. Because Native Americans’ cultural groups were founded on their subsistence methods, these shifts resulted in new groupings. As a result of the movement of some groups, fighting over territory erupted, and groups that had enough of food now lacked enough.

Works Cited

Chirikure, Shadreck. “Gathering and Hunting Farmers; Farming Gatherers and Hunters: So, What?” African Archaeological Review, vol. 36, no. 1, 2019, pp. 161-167. Web.

Genovese, Michael A., and Alysa Landry. US Presidents and the Destruction of the Native American Nations. Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

Hansen, Kenneth N. “Uncivil Rights: The Abuse of Tribal Sovereignty and the Termination of American Indian Tribal Citizenship.” IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 2020, pp. 49-63.

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