April 15, 2015

1911 protest against Hollywood stereotypes

More from The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel by Ralph and Natasha Friar:

Native protests against racism and stereotyping continued during the 1909-14 "deluge" of movies. For instance:CUT TO
The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., 1911. There is a demonstration on the steps. We see several Native Americans, in full tribal regalia, angrily talking to government officials and newsmen.

For the first time Native Americans voiced their strong objection to their portrayal in films. To emphasize their case, the Shoshoni, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Chippewa took their case to Congress and threatened to go directly to President Taft if no action was taken.
Spoiler alert: Nothing much came of these protests. Maybe some commission tasked to investigate the situation, but that's about it.

But the point isn't the outcome, it's the attempt. Natives recognized and disliked Hollywood's bastardization of their cultures from the beginning.

They didn't stoically accept their fate as they vanished into the mists. They stood on the steps of Congress and demanded action.

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