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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



stereotypes, Native American, American Indian, media, contemporary


This thesis examines the ongoing trends in depictions of Native American Indians in popular mainstream media from the last two decades. Stereotypes in general and in relation to Native American Indians are discussed, and a pattern of stereotype reactions to colonists’ perceived strains is identified. An analysis of popular television shows, movies, and books with contemporary Native characters will demonstrate new trends which we might consider transformed or emerging stereotypes of Native people in non-Native media. These trends will not only be shown to have emerged from more general national and regional stereotypes of Native identity, but will also demonstrate a continuation of the historical willingness of colonists to rely on more virulent Native stereotypes in cases where they perceive some Native threat. Particular attention will be paid to the denial of Indian identity in the southeast and northeast through comedy and mockery and, on the other hand, the exaggeration of Indian identity in the western United States through shape-shifting, paranormal encounters, mystery, and more conventional Native interests. At the end of the thesis, some possible methods for grappling with these problematic portrayals will be discussed.

First Advisor

Jean S. Forward