How is the depiction of Native American in movies changing?

Soon after the film was invented, an entire industry grew up around westerns, films about Indian-white conflicts on the Plains.

These movies almost always depicted Plains Indians as villainous, bloodthirsty savages. Audiences were encouraged to cheer when whites killed them and took over their lands.

Beginning in the late 1960s, non-Native American filmmakers began to create stories of the Plains Wars that were far more sympathetic to the Native Americans involved.

Little Big Man (1970) and Dances with Wolves (1990), for instance, were celebrated for depicting Indians as full characters and for casting Native American actors in these parts. But even these films showed Indian culture from the perspective of non-Native American characters.

Only in recent years have Native American filmmakers such as Sherman Alexie and Alanis Obomoswin begun to create movies that tell Indian stories from an Native American point of view.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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