Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Journalism and Communication
Charles S. Peterson
This study was conducted to see to what extent, if any, the American Indian was stereotyped. In three magazines, two aimed at the young reader and one for a specialized adult audience, two areas of the publications were content analyzed. First, all of the cartoons that dealt specifically with American Indians were surveyed and categorized. Next, all magazine articles about American Indians were collected, read thoroughly and placed into categories. The magazines were the "Boy's Life," "Jack and Jill", and the "Western Horseman".
To gather data on media presentations of Indians eight categories were used, they were: (1) Personal appearance, (2) Dress, (3) Communications, (4) Transportation, (5) Family dwellings, (6) Daily routines, (7) Intelligence, and (8) Names.
The study showed that the American Indian men presented in the stories and cartoons were dressed in buckskin leggings, wore a breechcloth, had long braided hair, wore feathers or war bonnets, moccasins and had painted faces. Generally, the magazines presented all Indian characters patterned after the plains Indian. In all of the cartoons where living conditions were portrayed, the Indians occupied teepees, hogans, log cabins or pueblo apartments. The Indians traveled on horses, and when communicating over long distances they used smoke signals or drumbeats. The Indian's everyday life was presented as spent in hunting for game for food, tending to animal herds, constructing clothes, shelter, and hunting weapons, and producing Indian handicrafts.
The stories and cartoons depicted the Indians as easily outwitted by a superior white man. The Indians were nomadic hunters in the stories. The stories and cartoons described the Indians in terms of life-styles prevelent over 150 years ago. No distinction was made among tribes, all Indians were cast the same. The Indians were characters who had names of animals or titles that were tagged on them by the white man. Squaw, papoose, buck and chief were general character names used in the stories and cartoons.
Pratt, Michael, "A Content Analysis of Stereotyping of the American Indian in Selected Mass Media" (1979). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 8235.
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