From the feared warrior and noble savage to the Indian princess and helpless squaw, American Indians have fallen into constructed stereotypes on film. These constructs, which began with the arrival of Europeans to the New World, eventually formed the ‘Hollywood Indian,’ a culmination of the Native stereotypes represented throughout American film history. Audiences were thrilled with the grand conquests, adventures, and heroes of Western-era films; however, others viewed the films as consistent reminders of defeat, betrayal, and unimaginable loss. Many are familiar with the cultural wrongdoings of Western-era films, but where does the Hollywood Indian live in our modern-day films? How do the films impact society? In my research presentation for the Student Conference, I will analyze American Indian representations in film – and their societal impacts – from 1990 to present. I argue the era, despite its faults carried from earlier Western films, caters to a consumer-driven period for authenticity.
Raya Williamson is a senior at Kent State University at Stark. She is completing a major in marketing and a minor in management. After her graduation in May, she plans to begin her career in a marketing-focused role. Outside of school, Raya enjoys watching movies, spending time with friends and family, and scrapbooking.