Myths and Realities about Native American

Everyone hears about American Indians or legends and stories about them. Such popularity makes a massive problem of combining reality and false image of American Indians. Hollywood proposes two most popular pictures of Native Americans. The first is a noble, brave, and kind savage; the second is a picture of a cruel robber and thief of white women. Another view of Indians as victims of colonization is beyond Hollywood. Thus, both Native American writers and Anglo-Saxon presenters try to draw their picture of American Indians with false and real facts.

What is the reason?

One of the makers of such pop culture are Hollywood Western films. From 1903 till the 1940s several thousand series of this genre appeared on TV. Thanking to the use of repetitive descriptions, narratives, and stereotyped characters, they created two types of films. The first one tells the story about poor, wild tribes of Native Americans versus noble, civilized, and educated white Anglo-Saxon Protestant people who gain victory over the savages. The second approach narrates the collective portrait of the Indians where such tribes as the Apache and the Comanche are shown as good warriors, but they, nevertheless, lose to the vigorous and powerful cavalry of the whites. Thus, it illustrated the superiority of white people over the savages.

Liberal changes

The middle of the twentieth century brought a new picture of Indians. Such tribes as the Seminole and the Sioux started to solve the issues of racism, territorial and culture rights. Nevertheless, some of the films such as The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) continued to use old stereotypical characters.

In the 1970s the situation became to better. Firstly, Arthur Penn's film Little Bug Man showed corruption, expansionary character, and genocidal policies towards the Native Americans. Another problem appeared with such Native American writers as Kiowa-Cherokee Scott Momaday who were more interested in money than in serving the interests and true description of Native Americans. Deloria, the expert of the American Indians culture, argued that this was the paradoxical situation, which made the history of the Indians fictional.

A difficult process of changing the collective vision of the Indians started later. Neihardt tried to do it for the first time, but as Deloria said, the question of understanding and relationships remained challenging.

Significant changes of 1960-1970

This period marks the considerable increase of literary interest to the Native American culture. Despite the tradition of non-Indian writers, translators, and collaborators such as Jerome Rothenberg and Gery Snyder, the Indians poetry and songs, especially the Seneca song, became as famous as Odyssey to the West.

Modern stage

Today new American Indian writers are interested in considering the interaction between the whites and the Indians, seeking common historical features and solving external and internal issues of the Indian community. Some researchers compare keeping Indian beliefs to nature conservation. Others try to examine the history of Indian women and the stages of their significant changes.


Thus, we see that the history of Native Americans is very complicated and very often was formed under control of pop culture and World trends. We have just to remember that every phenomenon has its history, which is full of myths and the real facts, the history of the Indians is no exception.