July 02, 2014

Wiggle Tooth of the Tooth Tribe

Meet Wiggle Tooth, Germany’s Stereotypical Native of Hygiene

By Red HaircrowThe fight against Native mascots, stereotypes and caricatures have made recent headlines around the world as Native Americans continue attempts to educate others against the usage and defense of demeaning and disrespectful imagery, and stop the practice. Though research studies by groups such as the American Psychology Association have concluded such imagery is detrimental to Natives, especially in our young people, who have some of the highest rates of suicide in the world, in Germany such images are endless.

Just one among other German authors with Indians as their drawing point, from penning crime dramas and thrillers, Sascha Ehlert turned to that more financially lucrative theme, using such Native caricatures to fuel a series of children’s books promoting good oral hygiene. Written in adventure type stories geared towards ages four to 10, after gaining in popularity with children, parents and teachers, the author soon began to promote his work by touring festivals, schools and kindergartens, where he is received with eager applause. Wearing his own fake Indian headband with a feather, in front of an audience of “little Indians” bedecked the same, Ehlert often encourages them to make whooping noises in imitation of the Indian stereotype to build the atmosphere before beginning his storytelling.

With illustrations by José Antonio Martin Vilchez, the main character of the books is a little girl named Wiggle Tooth of the Tooth Tribe. A stereotypical supporting cast includes a gray-haired shaman, a faithful animal sidekick and a variety of comedic others. The main rivals of her band are the Stinkyfoot Tribe, the leader of which is Chief Cheese Foot. Other tribes interested in gaining the lost teeth of the Tooth tribe’s children and making general mischief are the Cavity Apaches, whose favorite past-time is tying people to martyr stakes.
Comment:  This is a typical example of Indians as uncivilized savages--i.e., primitive people of the past.

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