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October 3, 2023
Authentic Indigenous representation is on the rise, but the bias from 100 years ago lingers today.
As a little Ojibwe girl growing up on the rez with The Indian in the Cupboard and Pocahontas as representation, I would’ve never imagined such authentic depictions could exist.
In early representations, Native people were limited to existing within the stereotypes constructed by the Eurocentric lens, often pushing them into the role opposite to the white character’s hero. This racialized and othering depiction of Native people dates back to wild west shows in the 1800s and persists through misconceptions present in media to this day.
The Western genre in film was a big proponent in further developing this perspective on Indigenous people, especially those in North America. The Native characters are historically secondary to the white lead, and always written by non-Native people. They have long lacked the proper perspective, and until the 21st century, the majority of Indigenous storylines were being told through a colonialist perspective.