by Winter Rabbit | 4/15/2008 11:26:00 AM
Racism is based on ignorance and is passed down generationally. One racist adult caretaker may infect a few children with their racism; however, one racist film or television show would infect many more and more deeply ingrain any racism that already was in existence in my opinion. Examples such as in the following video have contributed to anti – Indian sentiments in the popular American culture in the relevant generations who viewed such films.

How Hollywood stereotyped the Native Americans




Crossposted at Native American Netroots

The main question I posed in "Stereotypical Elements (that) appear… in Athletic Contests" was “Who are they imitating?” It is vital to understand that in such "run – of – the – mill – westerns," language exists that dehumanizes the American Indian and rationalizes genocide. Quoting a scene from “The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)” in the video above,


A man doesn’t forget easily when his wife and kids were butchered.

The Cheyenne, wasn’t it?

Cheyenne, Apache, Blackfoot, Sioux – they’re vicious killers all of them; they ain’t even human.



the film justified the genocide committed at the Sand Creek Massacre by stating “they’re vicious killers all of them; they ain’t even human.” Let’s look at “Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film” by Jacquelyn Kilpatrick to break down how such racist films dehumanize the American Indian more specifically before identifying who the actors in “The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)” were imitating.

Author Jacquelyn Kilpatrick outlines three elements of stereotyping American Indians in films: mental, sexual, and spiritual.


Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film

The stereotypes of Native Americans can be divided into three categories: mental, sexual, and spiritual, the most meaningful of which is probably the mental.

Although the actual words stupid and dumb are seldom seen in descriptions of Natives – perhaps because fighting a stupid enemy or having a dumb sidekick is not especially flattering – Native Peoples have been firmly placed in the lower echelons of intelligence by many European Americans since first contact was made. Benevolent terms such as “innocent,” “primitive,” and “unsaved” indicate a lesser intelligence, and the more antagonistic descriptors certainly point to comparative dimness. For instance, while the word stupid does not imply a lack of cleanliness, the word dirty does imply stupidity, and we are all familiar with the terms dirty redskin, filthy heathens, and so forth. This follows the pattern of stereotype development Perkins notes: “The most important and the common feature of the stereotypes of the major structural groups relates to their mental abilities. In each case the oppressed group is characterized as innately less intelligent…”

The presumed lack of mental prowess may have something to do with the image of the Native American as intensely sexual – more creature than human, more bestial than celestial. Sexuality has historically constituted an important dimension of Hollywood Indians, both male and female, producing a very scary character. We repeatedly see the lustful savage attacking the white woman, requiring that he be killed immediately. And we have the lovely “Indian Princess” who is enormously attractive but must die before any damage is done to the purity of the gene pool…

The “spirituality” of Native Americans is brushed off as primitive or heathen in many run – of – the – mill – westerns…



Before identifying who the actors in “The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)” were imitating, we need to recognize that the stereotypes in such “run – of – the – mill – western” weren’t taken from American Indian tribes who resisted the U.S. extermination policy against them peacefully, those stereotypes were taken from “…Warrior Societies which had a key beginning and a key ending in 1825 and 1878...”



"Stereotypical Elements (that) appear… in Athletic Contests"


These facts in my opinion: that the U.S. traded weapons to the American Indians which naturally increased violence, and that the U.S. did not keep its treaties and created desperate conditions wherein American Indians would either have to starve or fight; may possibly provide a foundation for historically understanding and doing away with “stereotypical elements (that) appear… in athletic contests” and such stereotypical elements in “run – of – the – mill – westerns (added).”

The U.S. traded weapons to the American Indians which naturally increased violence.


Source

And the Chiefs and Warriors, as aforesaid, promise and engage that their tribe will never, by sale, exchange, or as presents, supply any nation or tribe of Indians, not in amity with the United States, with guns, ammunition, or other implements of war.


And trade in general increased violence, as well as how “Europeans and Americans manipulated traditional hostilities.”


Encyclopedia of the Great Plains Indians
Edited by David J. Wishart. p. 103



Destructive war in the plains intensified after contact because of migration of eastern tribes (the Cheyennes and the Lakotas, for example) into the Plains as settlement moved west, because Europeans and Americans manipulated traditional hostilities, and because tribes competed for access to European and American trade, especially in fur – rich areas of the Northern Plains and Prairie Provinces.


The increased violence caused by weapons trade and “Europeans and Americans manipulated traditional hostilities” affected not only Indian Nation to Indian Nation, but it also spread from Indian Nation to white settlers. This certainly wasn’t the last conflict, but the last Indian Raid was in Kansas in 1878. Within those raids and the brutality therein lie much racial resentment in my personal conversations and readings, and quite understandably so. There were deaths on both sides and it matters not to the surviving family members why their ancestor died, only that they were murdered and how. I don’t pretend to have the answer for that; I just know that this racism we are speaking of is not the solution. Let us continue.



The U.S. did not keep its treaties and created desperate conditions wherein American Indians would starve as part of the extermination policy against them, and that meant making a choice to fight in order to survive or to starve to death.


Custer's Indian Hostages: (One White Woman & 2 White Children, Part 1)

Moxtaveto lost even more respect for signing the Little Arkansas Treaty of 1865 after the Sand Creek Massacre. It gave some land to Black Kettle and others, promised food and other survival necessities, promised that conflicts would be handled by taking Indians into custody rather than being murdered, "and that no white person, except officers, agents, and employees of the Government, shall go upon or settle within the country embraced within said limits, unless formerly admitted and incorporated into some one of the tribes lawfully residing there, according to its laws and usages."




Custer "Stayed The Course" & The Kansas Raids

Confining and binding those Native Nations to land where they could not survive by hunting or agriculture, breaking promises to provide those survival means, and propaganda revolving around the Kansas Raids reset Custer "on the course," as if they were without severe provocation in the first place.



Furthermore, the Sand Creek Massacre descendants were


Encyclopedia of the Great Plains Indians Edited by David J. Wishart. p. 49

…promised indemnities under the Treaty of Little Arkansas Treaty in 1865, which had not yet been paid as of 2001, although the Cheyenne Sand Creek Descendants Association continues to make legal efforts to collect the funds.


And at that Massacre at Sand Creek





”Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown. p. 92.

Chivington and his soldiers destroyed the lives or the power of every Cheyenne and Arapaho chief who had held out for peace with the white men.


So: trade in general increased violence, how “Europeans and Americans manipulated traditional hostilities” increased violence, the U.S. not keeping its treaties helped create violence, and the Massacre that started the so called “Indian Wars” that involved “destroy(ing) the lives or the power of every Cheyenne and Arapaho chief who had held out for peace with the white men -” created much, much, more violence.


- snip -


143rd Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre of Nov. 29th, 1864

Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. "American Indian Prophecies." pp. 58-59:

- The report of witnesses at Sand Creek:

"I saw some Indians that had been scalped, and the ears cut off the body of White Antelope," said Captain L. Wilson of the first Colorado Cavalry. "One Indian who had been scalped had also his skull smashed in, and I heard that the privates of White Antelope had been cut off to make a tobacco bag of. I heard some of the men say that the privates of one of the squaws had been cut out and put on a stick..."

John S. Smith...

All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons; they were scalped, their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the heads with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word...worse mutilation that I ever saw before, the women all cut to pieces...children two or three months old; all ages lying there.





Now, who was the actor in “The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)” imitating in the attitudes portrayed? Chivington, the butcher of the Sand Creek Massacre.



Photobucket
http://www.forttours.com/images/chivington.jpg


Source

"the Cheyennes will have to be roundly whipped -- or completely wiped out -- before they will be quiet. I say that if any of them are caught in your vicinity, the only thing to do is kill them." A month later, while addressing a gathering of church deacons, he dismissed the possibility of making a treaty with the Cheyenne: "It simply is not possible for Indians to obey or even understand any treaty. I am fully satisfied, gentlemen, that to kill them is the only way we will ever have peace and quiet in Colorado."




“The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)”


A man doesn’t forget easily when his wife and kids were butchered.

The Cheyenne, wasn’t it?

Cheyenne, Apache, Blackfoot, Sioux – they’re vicious killers, all of them;
they ain’t even human.


When asked at the military inquiry why children had been killed, one of the soldiers quoted Chivington as saying, "NITS MAKE LICE."

Author Jacquelyn Kilpatrick outlined three elements of stereotyping American Indians in films: mental, sexual, and spiritual. The “most meaningful of which is probably the mental,” Kilpatrick stated.

Chivington, the butcher of the Sand Creek Massacre had said "It simply is not possible for Indians to obey or even understand any treaty,” which was an attack on the intelligence of the Cheyenne. The actor in “The Great Sioux Massacre” who said “they ain’t even human” echoed Chivington, the butcher of the Sand Creek Massacre who said "Nits make lice." Both statements rationalize the genocide committed at the Sand Creek Massacre. In addition, “Non – human” in such a context means “lacking intelligence,” or “not as smart as.” Certainly, “lice” are not seen as having very high intelligence and both - dehumanize. It should be abundantly clear that such “run – of – the – mill westerns” have contributed to anti – Indian sentiments in the popular American culture in the relevant generations who viewed such films.

Finally, similarly to what the Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report says about Indian Mascots on page 72,


Although the United States would probably respond that racist mascots and logos are an exercise of free speech that it has reserved under the Convention, they reveal the depth and pervasiveness of the racism against Indigenous Peoples so deeply engrained in the history and psyche of the United States and the dominant culture.


“run – of – the – mill westerns” also “reveal the depth and pervasiveness of the racism against Indigenous Peoples so deeply engrained in the history and psyche of the United States and the dominant culture.”



* I deliberately used the word “imitated” as opposed to “resembled.” That was due to the fact that the last Indian Boarding School did not close until the very early 1970’s, while the Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women were during the 1970’s. Both were prior to and during the The Siege of Wounded Knee 1973, respectively. In that light, I used the word “imitated” deliberately.


Source

The Great Sioux Massacre is an entertaining pack of lies about Custer's Last Stand. General Custer (Philip Carey) is herein depicted as a bastion of tolerance, whose efforts to secure fair treatment for the Indians lead to several confrontations with corrupt government officials.


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6 Comments:


Blogger Jeremy Young on 4/15/2008 4:51 PM:

This is a powerful presentation, WR -- one of your very best. The way you build from that shocking film -- shocking because the dehumanization of Native Americans it shows is so ordinary in our society that I have to stop and realize what's happening -- through Kilpatrick's excellent work, to your earlier piece on the Sand Creek Massacre, is very, very impressive. Well done. (Russell Means kicks ass in that video, by the way.)

BTW, have you read Gary Gerstle's book American Crucible? I don't agree with everything in the book, but the first chapter is very good. It outlines the peculiar racial views of Theodore Roosevelt, who saw Native Americans as worthy and fearsome opponents who were created by God to test the mettle of white Americans. The knots TR has to tie himself in to sustain this contradictory view, where Native Americans are simultaneously noble and worth slaughtering, are astounding. For instance, he invited something like five Native Americans to join his Rough Riders, as something like a gesture of thanks for having been massacred by whites with such grace. It's really shocking stuff.

 

Blogger Winter Rabbit on 4/15/2008 5:11 PM:

I take your praise in very high regards Jeremy anyways, but especially this time.

I must have read this 20 times over and asked a friend about it last night regarding my use of imitate. I didn't want to cheapen it but I kept coming to the same conclusion, that it was, and just the sheer number of these that reached who knows how many. I was stunned and still am if I think about it.

I've not read American Crucible, but considering he said no to Indian Territory I'm not suprised.

He "saw Native Americans as worthy and fearsome opponents who were created by God to test the mettle of white Americans."

Speechless.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 4/15/2008 7:15 PM:

Well, this is a man who fought his way to the top of San Juan Hill at the head of his Rough Riders and exclaimed, "Boys, look at those damned Spanish dead!" Many of his contemporaries saw him as a madman and a butcher, and unfit to be President -- that is, until the President died and he was thrust into the national spotlight.

I think you made the right call with the word use. Watching those film clips was especially shocking to me because I remember watching many movies just like those (though not any of those specific ones), and not thinking anything of it.

What changed for me was, I think, moving to northern Arizona near the Navajo (Dine) Reservation, where Native Americans walk down the street just like anyone else. And of course I developed my own new set of stereotypes then, but it was impossible not to see them as people, and as very different from what I'd seen on TV.

Again, incredible job -- thanks so much for your words and your voice.

 

Blogger elle on 4/15/2008 10:10 PM:

winter rabbit, wonderful post.

I've been wanting to ask if you've seen this--if you've talked about it before, please forgive me:

http://www.hiddenfromhistory.org/RecentUpdatesampArticles/Apr102008LocationofMassGravesRevealed/tabid/71/Default.aspx

 

Blogger elle on 4/15/2008 10:10 PM:

I'll try that again:
this

 

Blogger Winter Rabbit on 4/15/2008 10:35 PM:

Thankyou elle,

I'd known about the Indian Boarding Schools here and that they were also in Canada, but I did not know about the mass graves of children from them in Canada.

I coined a phrase from a friend last night I can't apply very well here,

"My expectations were so low to begin with it didn't surprise me."

My expectations were low and I'm shocked and repulsed in a painful way at the same time.

Thankyou for telling me about that elle, I wouldn't of known otherwise. 28 mass graves if I remember from the link. No wonder they didn't sign the Declaration on Indigenous Rights either.