February 16, 2007

No harm in Peter Pan?

A comment from a correspondent:The "Indians" in Neverland were meant to be fantasy Indians. Realism, was never the intention from the get go. As a huge fan of Peter Pan in many of the stories' incarnations, I never found the Indians offensive. In the most recent live action film a couple of years ago, Tiger Lily and her kin were given the most dignified and respectful treatment ever.Isn't that what people say whenever Natives criticize their fictional Indians? E.g., Pocahontas, the Zagar commercials, Apocalypto, sports mascots. "These Indians weren't intended to be 'real,' so your criticism doesn't apply. We made them stereotypical intentionally because we have the right to exploit Indians however we want for our own selfish purposes."

Yes, the recent Peter Pan movie handled the Indians well. Which only goes to prove that Barrie didn't need to make his Indians "redskins" and "savages" to tell his story. He stereotyped them because he was ignorant about them--because that's what people did back then.

See Tiger Lily in Peter Pan:  An Allegory of Anglo-Indian Relations for more on the subject.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I'm not sure which Freedom of Religion Act you're talking about, since there are several with similar names. Here's a brief history of them:


In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), in which it stated that it was policy to "protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions...including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites." The act was later found to be "judicially unenforceable" since it had no provisions for enforcement. It was referred to as a mere "policy statement."

Another act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), gave federal backing of religious rights to Indians (and others). Additionally, it introduced a "compelling interest" test, stating that the government could not restrict religious practices unless it could show compelling interest to do so. It also gave the right to seek judicial proceedings in the case the person felt those religious rights were violated.

Later, the RFRA was ruled unconstitutional, as it gave religious groups more protection than individuals or non-religious groups or individuals (a violation the establishment clause). It also was seen as a matter of state's rights, in that the act interfered which the states' ability to enforce their laws.