So what's the message of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? Based on the first season, only a few "bad apples" were responsible for the Indians' plight. Fortunately the "good apples" slightly outnumbered the bad apples--at least on TV.
In Dr. Quinn, good triumphs over evil at the end of each hour. Everyone goes home happy. Yet the Indians continue to suffer. How does the show explain that? It doesn't, but they seem to be victims of forces beyond anyone's control. Although "our town" is full of decent people, someone somewhere is doing something bad.
In fact, the townspeople flourish and the Indians suffer in two parallel worlds that rarely overlap. Judging by their passive acceptance of their fate, the Indians are largely resigned to "vanishing." Only Dr. Quinn, Sully, and Cloud Dancing the good Indian seem to care enough to act.
What Cloud Dancing should say
It would be interesting to see Cloud Dancing blow up at his alleged friends: "Don't you idiots get it? Who cares about your petty problems? We're facing extinction here.
"Get off your fat white asses and do something. If you don't help us fight the Army, the railroads, and the influx of settlers, you're as guilty as anyone. If you're going to support the genocidal system, you might as well kill us yourselves."
I look forward to seeing that scene in a future episode of Dr. Quinn. But I won't hold my breath waiting for it. <g>
In short, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman addresses some challenging Indian issues. In the space of four episodes, for instance, it tackled alcoholism, miscegenation, buffalo hunting, and a massacre. But however good Dr. Quinn is, it could've been much better. Ultimately it takes the side of the government, progress, and Manifest Destiny against the Indians.
For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.