Hollywood Indian Film Analysis

Good Essays
The Hollywood Indian is merely a character and a tool used by movie directors that has changed throughout the 1800s, and can be manipulated simply by the overshadowing effects of the white character’s identities and stories in these films, as well as by details such as the Indian characters’ speaking lines, appearance, and role within these films. They were perceived as a collective existence between 1825 through 1880, and were often always portrayed as Plains Indians, and therefore, a homogenized group, wearing stereotypical regalia, despite the differences that actually existed between each tribe, and were thus, ultimately robbed of their identity and their culture in order to enhance Hollywood plots. Native Americans first were introduced…show more content…
These events occurred during the Progressive Era, in which “the dependable happy ending, where the villains get what’s coming to them, was also a typical popularization of the ideals and attitudes of the Progressive Era” (Kilpatrick, 1999, pg. 83). During this time, Natives directors and Native actors became more popular, such as director James Youngdeer, who directed many films during this era, and provided their own viewpoints within these characters. This process was called revisionism, in which “consequent image was a subjective interpretation, the purpose of which was to corroborate the outsider’s viewpoint” (Rollins, 1998, pg. 13). However, when Native Americans were on set, sometimes they were just paid with tobacco, while guards were often on set to ensure that none of their “savagery” would ensue.…show more content…
After WWII was when melodramatic westerns became popular in which the audience was made to feel both sympathetic for the pitiful Indian, but also defended the Europeans and their protection of the frontier and American values. The mere theme of westerns during this time consisted of “no middle ground between good and evil and no middle ground between nobility and a thirst for blood,” (Kilpatrick, 1999, pg. 105).It was here when Indians were only tolerated because of the belief that they would soon become extinct. It was this time when the original belief, “a good Indian is a good a dead Indian,” was transformed to “a good Indian is an assimilated Indian,”
Get Access