Images That Injure: The Constructed "Indian" and Contemporary Native American Imagery in Film

Stereotypical images of Native Americans have served to create an image of an "Indian," an image which is stagnant, and which stubbornly refuses to be dragged into the twentieth century. More than any other group, Native Americans have suffered dramatically under the yoke of created imagery; false images of themselves which they can not possibly live up to.

Beginning with the advent of the printing press, the transmission of falsely created images of Indians began in earnest, and imbedded in the minds of Europeans an image of an "uncivilized savage," which still permeates the psyche of American consciousness. This created "Indian" has emerged as a central character in popular American films. Although such "savage" and stereotypical imagery is thought by many to be limited to Westerns, the contention of this essay is that, in fact, these images still pervade film and continue to negatively mold the American psyche against Indians.


Kenneth Mello


Tom Holm





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 M45i
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences