Is there a real Native American? If so, are they Tonto?


We’ve all seen it, the familiar sight of a supposed Native American running for his or hers’ life as depicted by movies and television. And who can forget the glittering decorative attire that is so commonly attributed to Natives along that grim smile; a pernicious smile that scares even the most despicable of people from miles away. I for one have. In recent years, the focus on Native Americans has taken a complicated turn: the Dakota access pipeline, children and adult films that portray Native’s as the hero, protests in response to the deterioration of reservation resources, but none more devilish than the prominence of caricatures in social activities. For any high school, or college football athlete in the Midwest, to which has played on home field in several occasions, Native American mascots are no rarity, but instead a continuation of a legacy simply created for fun. In Pride or Prejudice, by Jennifer Guiliano, that same fun would be reiterated order to clarify common misconceptions from past American colleges, considering Native American commodification as harmless, “They were symbols of masculinity”, along with, “Indians were ‘objects of racial repulsion who represented the base instincts of humans and the devolution of humanity.” But the use of mascots doesn’t stop there, in fact, what seemed like a method to stimulate an appeal to college football, would continue to surface, and the Chief Illinewek mascot, despite his retirement in 2007, would hold on, along with the “Seminole” identity, now under the path of a new character, “its Indian Mascot, Osceola, rides on horseback to the middle of the football field and, ahead of each home game, defiantly throws down a feathered spear.” Though, the blame doesn’t fall directly on the past, but rather, the past of the past which nevertheless determines the future. Beginning during the period of Indian removal by the U.S. government, on which tribes were systematically cast out of their homes, numerous similarities appear from now, to then in stores and even, as said earlier, children’s films that attempt to recreate their “lost” history. For starters, the good character-defeats bad-character-with-an angry face attitude would derive following after Andrew Jackson’s Dancing Rabbit Creek treaty, where land allotment strategies would manipulate Native American’s hence, compelling the frustrated look so commonly believed, “Whites could not be blamed if Indians got into debt, lost their lands, and had to move beyond the Mississippi.” After months of confusion the endured by the Natives, the relentless fighter attribute would now be displayed during the final steps of removal, “The Indians had their families with them, and they brought in their train the wounded and the sick, with children newly born and old men upon the verge of death.” Words like, “savage” and “red faced,” would nonetheless emerge, with intentions to demonize, and justify a God given right to minimize Native American prevalence throughout the U.S. Of course, that was in the past, therefore, American actions should be left in the past and turned into a comical melody of incidents that are nothing short of inaccurate for the period, yes I’m pointing at you Sherman Alexie. But the sad truth lies within our social framework, which continues to forget and alter history to create a perception of the U.S. as good, and an enhancement from its former self. As a result, Native Americans are now forced to bear an image of a damsel in distress, gripping onto their slightest bit of integrity but nonetheless falling back to their own constraints inside of reservations, “the self-esteem of Native youth is harmfully impacted, their sense of identity identity is severely damaged.” So when asked, does Tonto really exist, I’d suggest comparing the past Native American to the present, along with the change in social attitude, which establishes a definition of the once prominent race into a fractured; disheveled scavenger. And while Native Americans continue to exist, they are portrayed as  a mirror image left over from the only piece of memory we have left, a warrior.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s