Native American Stereotypes: True or False?


When Native Americans are thought of, people usually associate them with being alcoholic, vulnerable, unaware and uneducated. Stereotypes of Native Americans haven’t changed much in the 21st century, due to the fact that Americans think the cleansing of this race has removed all Native Americans. This is not entirely true, considering the fact that there are, “…about 49 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native only, and about 51 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.”(1) When Christopher Columbus first found America, he did his very best to reserve a small area for Native Americans and try to get rid of him but his efforts weren’t enough. Some of the stereotypes said about Native Americans have been both positive and negative, but overall have had an impact on Native American identity and treatment in the United States.

Some of the negative impacts that have led to suicide being, “… the second leading cause of death for Native youth aged 15-24.”(Klein 1) They also have the “…lowest high school graduation rate out of every ethnic group in the country and some of the lowest standardized test scores. Rates of poverty are high.”(Klein 1) One of the main reasons why these suicide rates are so high is due to the fact that these young Native Americans don’t have hope for the future. According to psychiatrist R. Dale Walker, Native Americans have mentioned that the reason why suicide rates are so high is because they “…can’t grieve no more. We’re cried out. We just can’t respond anymore to the problem,’” he said.”(Almendrala 1) Because of the discrimination from people and the government, it has left Native Americans to isolation.

This also leads to Native Americans “… face misunderstandings about their culture and history.”(Klein 2) Kids are taught false things about Native Americans and their stereotypes like how the government provides them with assistance. Many have admitted “…they are rarely afforded the luxury of seeing their experiences accurately depicted in popular culture, school curriculum or national policy.”(Klein 2) Although they may be seen as a positive impact by individuals, this stereotype have led to bullying from teachers and classmates. This is just one  specific stereotype, what about the other ones who cause even more harm? There have been things that have tried to stop the discrimination against Native Americans like the United National Indian Tribal Youth(UNITY), who have done their best efforts to support Native peers.

Although there has been many actions taken to protect Native Americans, there are still millions of Native Americans who are relatively invisible to society and media. Since “… Alaska Natives made up about 2 percent of the total population in 2013…”(Qureshi 1), many people aren’t aware of how offensive Halloween costumes, mascots and logos are. People need to be more aware of their actions, even though they think it isn’t hurting anyone.


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