May 09, 2009

Face-cutting in Parks and Recreation

In the Parks and Recreation episode titled The Banquet (airdate: 5/7/09), Leslie Knope opens with the following monologue:In a town as old as Pawnee, there's a lot of history in every acre. This wooded area is the site of, um, the murder, actually, of Nathaniel Bixby Mark. He was a pioneer who was killed by a tribe of Wamapoke Indians after he traded them a baby for what is now Indianapolis. They cut his face off, and they made it into a dreamcatcher. And they made his legs into rain sticks. And that's the great thing about Indians back then, is they used every part of the pioneer.Ha ha. That's supposed to be a joke.

If the Wamapoke were so thrifty, I imagine they ate most of the pioneer's body. Why not go all the way and describe them as cannibals?

The captions for the hearing impaired indicate that the script originally told of a different exchange:--after he sold them a baby that he claimed would magically grow corn.Hmm. Giving away the city of Indianapolis or buying a corn-growing baby. Hard to say which trade makes the Indians look stupider.

This prologue is unrelated to the story that follows. It's completely gratuitous. Including the website and the previous episode I mentioned, it's the third time Parks and Recreation has described Indians as murderous savages.

Judging by the "jokey" tone, the show's writers must think it's okay to make fun of Indians because they're no longer in Indiana. Although Indiana doesn't have any recognized tribes, I think it has several communities of Indians descended from the Miami, Shawnee, Potawatomi, and other tribes. Imagine watching the show and hearing that one of your relatives cut someone's face off.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

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