According to an early 1990s study, 95 percent of what college students know about Native Americans was acquired through the media, leading to widespread misunderstandings of First Nations peoples. Sierra Adare contends that negative "Indian" stereotypes do physical, mental, emotional, and financial harm to First Nations individuals.
At its core, this book is a social study whose purpose is to explore the responses of First Nations peoples to representative "Indian" stereotypes portrayed within the TV science fiction genre. Participants in Adare's study viewed episodes from My Favorite Martian, Star Trek, Star Trek: Voyager, Quantum Leap, The Adventures of Superman, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Reactions by viewers range from optimism to a deep-rooted sadness. The strongest responses came after viewing a Superman episode's depiction of an "evil medicine man" who uses a ceremonial pipe to kill a warrior. The significance of First Nations peoples' responses and reactions are both surprising and profound. After publication of "Indian" Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction, ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse for Hollywood's irresponsible depiction of First Nations peoples' culture, traditions, elders, religious beliefs, and sacred objects.
Sierra S. Adare, of Laramie, Wyoming, is an independent scholar, a documentary filmmaker for Educational Fundamentals, and a member of the Word Craft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. She has been a Visiting Fellow at Cornell University’s American Indian Program and an instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Discussion of Terms Used
Chapter 1: First Nations Voices on Hollywood "Indians"
Selection of Participants
Shoshone Survey Groups
Interviews of First Nations Individuals
Summary of Methodological Strengths and Weaknesses
Chapter 2: It's All in the Label
The Label Begins
The Collective "Indian"
Origins of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly "Indian" Stereotypes
Hollywood Picks Up the Stereotypes
Overview of "Indian" Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction
Chapter 3: Future "Indians," Past Stereotypes
My Favorite Martian "Go West, Young Martian, Go West, Part II"
Star Trek "The Paradise Syndrome"
Star Trek: Voyager "Tattoo"
First Nations Peoples' Assessment of Futuristic "Indian" Stereotypes
Chapter 4: Shoshones and Non-Shoshones Assess Quantum Leap "Freedom": A Special Showing
Quantum Leap "Freedom"
First Nations Peoples' Assessment of the Stereotypical Depictions of Shoshones in "Freedom"
Shoshones' Take on the Stereotypical Depictions of Shoshones in "Freedom"
Chapter 5: Sky Spirits in Space: "Indian" Spirituality and the Small Screen
The Adventures of Superman "Test of a Warrior"
Star Trek: The Next Generation "Journey's End"
Star Trek: Voyager "The Cloud"
First Nations Peoples' Assessment of "Indian" Spirituality as Depicted in Science Fiction TV Shows
Chapter 6: Visions for the Future
Analysis of Common Threads: Positive and Negative Comments on Stereotypical Depictions of "Indians" in the Science Fiction TV Episodes
Participant Reactions While Viewing the Episodes
Common Threads in the Star Trek Universe
Common Threads in "Indian" Spirituality
Other Common Threads
The Depiction of Shoshones on Quantum Leap "Freedom"
What First Nations Peoples Would Like to See
Conclusion and Epilogue
Appendix A: Survey 1 Form: Stereotyping Indigenous Peoples in Science Fiction TV Shows
Appendix B: Shoshone Survey Form: Stereotyping Indigenous Peoples in Science Fiction TV Shows
Appendix C: Survey 2 Form: "American Indian" Religions and Spirituality Stereotyping in Science Fiction TV Shows
Appendix D: Interview Questions for Focus Group
Appendix E: Categorizing the Comments
Appendix F: Common Threads: Positive and Negative Comments on Stereotypical Depictions of "Indians" in the Episodes
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