November 25, 2006

Lazy-Indian stereotypes

LOCAL COMMENT:  No jackpots for Native AmericansOn a recent trip Up North, I overheard two men talking about American Indians who sit around, do nothing and receive free health care along with money from their casinos.

Being Native American and specifically from the tribe they were discussing, the Odawa tribe from the Petoskey region, I was dismayed and frustrated to realize so many people have the same stereotypical view.


Rob said...

The Odawa writer didn't learn about Native stereotypes from the two men she overheard. She already knew about them. The question is where the two men learned their stereotypical notions from. The article doesn't say.

I've documented dozens of examples of Indians as good-for-nothing welfare recipients in the media. In contrast, I've rarely heard the issue discussed in person. And then people were usually referring to what they heard in the media. I'm guessing about 99% of Americans have no first- or secondhand experience with lazy Indians.

In short, I guess my experiences don't match yours. Living in Oklahoma, you may have a skewed idea of how much non-Indians know about Indians from personal experience. In my experience, media mentions of a stereotype outnumber in-person mentions by a factor of 10 to 1 or more. Others agree, which is why so many experts have concluded that the media is the primary source for Native stereotypes.

Unknown said...

I think this is a two sided situation. I've read multiple biased articles as it relates to Native Americans in general. I myself have some Native American in me (My grandmother was Crow) and though I definitely look white I experienced many racist situations in my Oklahoma childhood. At the same time I had much experience with "lazy Indians" as well. For example I used to play high school basketball back when women still played 6 on 6 ball. We used to play against an all Native American team from a nearby reservation and every time we played them I was amazed how they would sit on the gymnasium floor during the middle of the game unless they were the individual holding the ball. On time outs the players went into the stands and ate/drank with their parents while we would huddle and await instruction from our coach. Be it a fluke or be it something else it was only when we played Native American teams that we experienced things like that. As a partial Native American I sometimes find myself caught between fairness and equality and my own experiences growing up. But in the end I have to say in my entire life I have never experienced such stereotypes and biases as I have at the hands of white individuals. And in my experience they will argue as long as they can in order to simply avoid having to research reality just so they can stay in the land of privelege.