Stereotypes In Shell Shakers

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Leanne Howe works to challenge and confirm stereotypes of indigenous Choctaw peoples through her novel Shell Shakers. Although Howe presents some stereotypes that she selects to be acceptable of Choctaw culture to her readers, she makes it obvious that she is attempting to counter and change many stereotypes of indigenous Choctaw peoples through providing detailed accounts of Choctaw lives and proceedings. Stereotypes of indigenous peoples continue through the generalization of all groups, and the judgement passed upon those groups to fit western ideals (Berkhofer 25). Due to the “persistence and perpetuation” of stereotypes then the task of books aimed at countering stereotypes “becomes one of delineating that continuity in spite of seeming…show more content…
European groups formed judgements about indigenous peoples and their traditions because they were judging those people and events through the values of European cultures (Berkhofer 27). Howe begins the novel with a detailed scene of a woman describing Choctaw life styles and how everything in Choctaw that took place in Choctaw life “was a series of games and dances” (Howe chapter 1). Through providing a detailed account, Howe is able to differentiate her tribe from the conglomeration of in which all indigenous peoples have become a part (Berkhofer 25). Howe also uses details to differentiate her tribe when she describes the execution that occurs as a part of a tradition (Howe chapter 1), and she does this to explain the tradition and different beliefs that Choctaws have held through time (“Business of Theory making” 336). Although the sacrifice of Shakbatina is a bloody one completed with a club, it is meant to be one of peace in order to resolve all of the issues between her clan and another (Howe chapter 1). Howes description of these events creates theories that redefine history and the perceptions of people who read her theories (“The Business of Theory making…show more content…
Redford McAlister was nicknamed by the media as the ‘“Casino Chief,’ the one responsible for bringing his tribe into the twentieth century” because he was thought to have given away millions to his community from the profits of the casino (Howe chapter 3). Due to these sensationalist headlines, the Choctaws were perceived to be extremely prosperous, but it was not the case since many of the profits were taken from the Choctaw nation through the corruption of upper Choctaw officials such as Redford McAlister (Howe chapter 3). The Choctaw’s wealth was produced from rumors which have become stereotypes about Native Americans. While it might be true that one Choctaw person has come to benefit from the wealth offered by the casino it is not true for the other members of the Choctaw nation. Howe seeks to fix these stereotypes through pointing out these errors in assumptions and educating her readers about the effects that their stereotypes may have on a specific society (Shaawano). The assumptions made about the Choctow nation changed the perceptions of outsiders, and this may have influenced the abilities of the Choctaw people to receive aid
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