PETER: Last day on Earth. I've always wanted to save a Native American family from rapacious cavalrymen.
PETER [whispering to the headless corpse]: You don't have to be afraid of him anymore.
Most people thought this episode wasn't funny in general and the Native scene wasn't funny in particular. Some reactions to this "joke":
The scene with the Battle of Hastings was boring and Peter shooting a Native American was just horrible humor.
Peter "Saves" Native Americans from the Calvary: In trying to "save a Native American family" from the Cavalry (circa 1880), Peter shoots a Native American woman's head off with a musket. I'm not kidding, it's not funny...so many nopes! Grade: F
So many potentially bad messages here for people to absorb. Men accost women because they're temptingly attractive. Attacks happened because of "bad men," not genocidal government policies. Murdering Indians is okay, even beneficial.
Peter might as well have said, "Kill the Indian, save the (wo)man." Making this explicit by blowing up the woman's head may be ironic, but it isn't funny. Not even close.
Summing up the stereotypes
The camp consists of tipis, so we immediately know we're in Plains stereotype territory. Other than that, the images aren't too bad.
There's a variety of Indians: male and female, young and old. Their skins are light brown, not red. They're dressed in simple buckskin outfits. A couple men have a single feather each, but there's no stereotypical chief. The older one is smoking a pipe.
The other faux pas is the Pocahontas-style maiden. Hollywood can't resist Indian women who are young and beautiful--i.e, exotic sex objects. If they've ever given us a Plain-Jane princess, I don't remember it.
No other ethnic group gets stereotyped as savage and uncivilized. Only Indians. Sure, Family Guy insults other groups occasionally, but not with the same level of bias. Showing every Indian as a Plains denizen is equivalent to showing every black as a slave.
Of course, the larger stereotype is showing 150-year-old Indians in the middle of a contemporary story. Viewers learn from the umpteenth source that Indians are primitive people of the past. And as we learn from other shows, any remaining Indians are casino owners.
It's a classic case of stereotyping by omission. No modern-day Indians exist in the Family Guy universe, so primitive Indians are the norm. White people live in suburban tract homes and Indians live in tipis.
What audiences learn
Is this just a harmless TV show? Let's do a pre- and post-test of people's knowledge of Indians. Here's the question:
"True or false: Most Indians lived it tipis?"
How much do you want to bet the percentage of wrong answers goes up after watching April in Quahog? Does anyone think the percentage wills stay the same or go down? Of course not. People will vote "true" for "most Indians lived it tipis" even if Family Guy is a piece of fiction.
For more on the subject, see Indians in Family Guy and TV Shows Featuring Indians.
Below: "The family gathers around the television as the end of the world approaches."
The entire episode: