December 04, 2007

"Chief" Lambert stereotyped Indians

Iconic Cherokee Chief Henry has diedLambert started “chiefing” in 1951 to support his family.

His striking features, flowing headdress and enjoyment of the crowds brought generations of families back year after year to have their pictures made with him. He was probably the most photographed man in North Carolina, with the exception of the Rev. Billy Graham.

His image still appears on postcards sold in Cherokee.

Lambert never denied that the character he created was taken from Hollywood expectations of what an Indian should look like. He never promised to be authentic, only entertaining.

“I wouldn't do anything else,” he said in a 1995 interview with the Associated Press. “Meeting people from all walks of life. Kids. Kids love seeing an Indian. Every little kid wants to be Pocahontas.”
Comment:  "Iconic" in this context means stereotypical.

The problem with this "chief" is the problem with mascots, Western movies, and many other Native stereotypes in the media. Namely, it tells people that all Indians are the same, located in the remote West, and mainly gone. That in turn has a profound influence on cultural attitudes and government policy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ide rather have a stereotype than an apple any day!