January 19, 2007

Google Images of Indians

Here's what people envision when they envision Indians:

American Indians

Do you see any doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, preachers, executives, or politicians there? No? That's because the image of American Indians is frozen in the past. This is literally how most people see Indians.


Anonymous said...

You gotta be kidding me. That's way too antiquated. I don't pretend to speak for the majority but people can't be that out of it...can they?

Rob said...

I've just presented Google's results and put my spin on them. This is an opinion piece, so I can't prove my claim with airtight reasoning. But I can point to tests such as this one reported in The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence:

"[As part of a quiz on Indians, moderator Jean Gaddy Wilson] asked participants to write down two positive traits of Indians and two negative traits. Among the positive traits were such things as resourceful, traditional, helpful, knowledgeable of the natural world, survival, spiritual and bravery. Under negatives, responses included words such as alcoholic, lazy, mean, dirty, savages, dishonest, raiders and murderers."

Note the lack of such traits as "entrepreneurial," "mechanically minded," "good with numbers," "thinks logically," or "keen grasp of the law." The traits listed confirm my hypothesis that the image of Indians is frozen in the past.

Rob said...

We could do a test with the two pictures I helpfully provided. Most people would recognize the first person as an Indian, but how many would recognize the second one? Would it help if I said No. 2 is a former CEO of a multimillion-dollar business who is now pursuing a doctorate in politics and policy? How many would guess he's an Indian...zero?

Rob said...

Re "The ones that AIM dismisses as 'the half-breeds' (read: LESSER Natives than they)": This is ironic, Russ, considering you've dismissed several federally or state-recognized tribes because they don't meet your standard of Indianness. You know, tribes such as the Pequots, Chickasaws, and Chickahominies? Somehow they're lacking the "genetic racial memory" or "awareness granted by heredity" that you deem essential to being an Indian.

Anonymous said...


This topic would make a great feature article...*hint, hint*

Anonymous said...

Okay, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I typed in the words "italian american" and "white anglo saxon protestant" into the google image search...

Italians, well, lots and lots of food--but plenty of contemporary shots as well. WASPS, on the other hand...one cook book, the stinging variety, and one picture of Spike Lee.

So, there ya go. Indians, by far, had the most historical/stereotypical images depicted.

Rob said...

Re "He instead dismissed the particular Federal or state recognition of certain 'groups' who are about as Native as the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Building": Right...you know more than all the functionaries in the federal government, Russ. You know more than the 500-plus tribal governments who recognize the federal recognition process. I guess you know more than all 4.1 million people who identify themselves as all or part Indian. It must be nice to be as arrogantly omniscient as you are.

Until you provide a definition or standard of who's Indian and who isn't, your opinion on the subject isn't worth much. As far as I can tell, you have no standard; you merely disparage the tribes who aren't as pure as you are. Or who don't have a "genetic racial memory" or an "awareness granted by heredity," your fictional inventions for what makes an Indian "Indian."

In other words, spare us the semantics. Saying a tribe isn't a tribe is a pitiful example of rhetoric. If this is the best you can do, no wonder you decline to debate the issues so often.

I haven't dismissed anything "at will." I called Adam Beach a "Native actor" because he's an enrolled member of a Canadian tribe and because he identifies himself as such. As far as I know, neither Burt Reynolds nor Robert Forster meets either of these criteria. But if they come up in the news, I'll be glad to post information about them and identify them correctly. Namely, as fine part-Indian actors who weren't tribally enrolled and didn't identify themselves exclusively or primarily as Natives.

As for your "New Age" charge, that's about as ridiculous as you get. You're the one singing "Kumbaya" about how the Maya and Kiowa and "Anasazi" are all related and how you're going to reveal the truth about them someday. Shades of The X-Files. Retreating to generalities and mysteries is a classic New Age technique. It's what people who don't know the facts and can't argue them resort to.

Do you even know what New Age means? Why don't you crack a dictionary and let us know? Then quote us the lines you think represent my "New Age" thinking. Good luck with your answer...you'll need it.

FYI, lawyers win their cases by providing evidence that other lawyers can't refute. That's why I keep winning our arguments and you keep losing them. Which must explain why you've stopped trying to win them--because you know the results in advance.

Rob said...

As for your comments about Google: In case you didn't know, the Internet is a form of media (i.e., mass communications). Web pages, forums, and blogs are all publications of a sort. And Google links not only to them, but to images from the mainstream media.

So, yes, Google is a tool of broadcast and print media, at least in part. Sure, it's more than that, but it helps to perpetuate the images conveyed through the media. In that sense, it fits my model of the media being the primary source of Native stereotypes.

Rob said...

By the way, Russ, if you don't like the two-photo comparison, give us your own comparison. Do anything other than offer your unconstructive criticism. I doubt it impresses anyone.

Ever hear of the pot calling the kettle black? It's ironic that you've picked on me for criticizing movies when all you're doing is criticizing blog postings. You're welcome to start your own blog if you don't like the sensibility here.

Rob said...

It's a fact that you've contradicted yourself several times, Russ--for, instance, about who's an Indian and how accurate Apocalypto is. I continue to await your answers on these conundrums.

Your alleged "New Age" quote comes from Carole Levine's writeup, not from me. More to the point, it isn't close to the actual definition of New Age. That's why I suggested you crack a dictionary: because it's not clear you know what the phrase means.

I've shown what I know with my frequent citations of information in print and on the Web. You haven't. But if readers think my citations are no better than your lack of citations, so be it.

In the "last three postings" you referred to, I used 581 words, according to the word count in Microsoft Word. Under Adam Beach's Big News alone, you've written 944 words since I posted the item January 18. So here's a case where you're factually wrong, Russ. Judging by your own standard--who's writing the most--you're the one "implying a desperation of verbiage because someone sees the world differently from yourself." Not counting the original posts, you're undoubtedly the most verbose writer on this blog.

Rob said...

For the record, the two people pictured are Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and Deron Marquez of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.