Monday, November 17, 2008

American Indian Heritage Month

November is American Indian Heritage Month, and we're celebrating "Native Peoples" Week at!

What do you think of when you hear the term "American Indian?" Maybe you imagine someone who wears feathers and lives in a Tipi. Unfortunately, the word "Indian" often brings to mind a stereotypical image for many people. In fact, there are many unique Native cultures and tribes in America which all have their own characteristics and customs. For example, not all Indians live in Tipis (these were used by the Indians of the Great Plains). In our media culture, Indians are often stereotypically portrayed as violent, savage, and exotic. In contrast to this portrayal of Indians, Americans of European descent appear dignified and civilized.

This theme of Indians being violent and relentless is prevalent in professional sporting teams as well. Take for example baseball team the Cleveland Indians and football team the Washington Redskins. Many people oppose the use of these names and the team mascots for being racist.

What do you think about how you've seen American Indians portrayed in media? Do you think that pressure should be put on these professional sporting teams to modify their names or mascots? What implications do you think these portrayals have for those people who identify with a Native culture?

Join the discussion about this issue over at the Spotlight board at (sign-in required).

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