Paper Proposal: Native Americans Portrayal in Catlin, Apes, Disney’s Pocahantas, and Irving

The perils of Native Americans has always been something interesting to me, because will the settling and expanding of this country many atrocities also took place to the native people, animals, and land. The Native Americans were among the first minorities to be mistreated and even killed in large numbers for their land and their differences from the white settler’s way of life. I find it intriguing how Native Americans reacted to the devastation of their land and their tribes. Also, how white settler’s interacted with Native Americans and their opinion of them is interesting, such as their view of them being closer to nature.  The history of Native Americans and white settlers is important because it’s a part of history and because what happened years ago still has negative impacts today.

                From the class readings, I do know that Native Americans were horribly abused and taken advantage of. I also know about different perspectives of Native Americans and white settlers. Apes gives an account as a Native American experienced his life changing  by alcoholism, tribes become powerless and being taken in by other white men. Catlin provides a perspective of helping Indians since they are inferior and struggling under the white settlers. Irving gives a perspective that the culture of Native Americans was intriguing and he was in awe of the young Indian.

  1. What effect does the depiction of Native Americans in Disney’s film Pocahantas have?  Are the stereotypes portrayed even more harmful for children?
  2. In the texts from George Catlin, William Apes, and Washington Irving does nature have any significance of its relation to Indians?
  3. What are the positive and negative benefits of the concept of the “Ecological Indian”, such as monetary profit for campaigns or a positive characteristic for Indians?
  4. Between Catlin, Apes, Washington and the Disney Film Pocahantas does the media give an accurate depiction of white settlers, that not every white settler mistreated Native Americans and that not every white settler cared for Native Americans.
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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lmc908 on October 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Question 1 is the one I find most interesting. I am actually addressing this myself in my paper. You should focus on the impact of stereo-types on children and whether or not these portrayals are done on purpose to continue the image of the great America. You can even combine questions 1 and 4.

    Question 5. How does Thanksgiving aid in the misrepresentation of Native Americans as the Ecological Indian?

  2. Posted by christys21 on October 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I believe that the movie does seem to give children a harmful interpretation of an indian. We see an idealized indian interacted in ways that are not realistic. Rather than children learning about indians in general, they are taught from a young age to believe that Pocahantas is a representation of indian: they are gentle, understand english, and dress in suede.
    We read through our pieces of literature that the indians themselves were at times just a reckless with nature as the whites were. Children need to be taught that along with everything else they learn in order to dismiss this ideal image of the indian.

  3. Posted by etrotta on October 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I like your first question the most about how children are subjected to the ecological indian stereotype. You can expand that to go beyond just the Disney movie “Pocahantas” as well. The question posed above about Thanksgiving is a really good question and I think it works very well with your topic.

  4. Posted by yribaf on October 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I agree with the first comment about combining the 1st and 4th questions. Another question you may want to consider is:

    6. How does William Apes portray himself as a Native American as well as his family? How is this depiction different or similar to the other texts and the film you have chosen?

  5. This paper is taking on too much–four texts is a lot for such a short paper. You need to narrow down to 2-3 texts (I suggest 2) and have clear reasons for each text you bring into the paper. I suggest dropping Pocahontas at this point because you have formed 2 questions that include Catlin, Apess, and Irving, but have not been able to incorporate Pocahontas into those questions. You have separate questions for Pocahontas, so you have (at least) 2 separate papers going on here.

    Overall, you need a clearer focus for this paper. What EXACTLY do you seek to find out by reading these alongside each other? I think question #2 has the most promise but needs to be clarified. Question 3 needs to be specifically directed at these texts, and question #4 should be scrapped, since Catlin, Apess, and Irving’s texts don’t qualify as “media depictions.”

  6. Posted by michaelmichaelsmith on October 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I think that Q3 is the most interesting. Prior to this class I had thought that Native Americans really wasted nothing and had little impact on the land. Exploring the trope that a ton of people unwittingly assume to be true could be enlightening.

    Question 7 – What role does religious membership have in Native Americans being accepted into white “civilization?” (Aimed at the Apess text)

  7. I find your 1st question about the harmful effect of the treatment of native americans in the Disney film Pochantas to children. It perpetuates the idea of the ecological indian
    A question to explore is how does the act of sacrifice of Pochantas for the white build upon the ecological indian even though the other whites are fighting with her tribe.

  8. Apes’ account of the native american differs dramatically from the other authors. This is perhaps due to his identification with the natives. However, I think an interesting question to think about is the different moment in Apes’s text where he explains the natives abilities to assimilate. How does this relate to the other author’s portrayals?

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