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The stereotyping of Native Americans - Essay Example

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The stereotyping of Native Americans

Following an overview of the commercialisation of the American Indian image, two case studies of corporate/brand use, of the American Indian image shall be analysed.
The commercialisation of the Native American image, or figure, is both pervasive and expansive in scope, embracing all of the noble savage and the "mystical environmentalists or uneducated, alcoholic bingo-players confined to reservations'' (Mihesuah, 1996, p. 9). All one need to conform the validity of the aforementioned assertion is visit their nearest grocery and attempt to quantify the sheer number of products, ice cream, alcohol, cigarettes, canned vegetables, baking powder, honey and butter, to name but a few, on which the image of the American Indian is emblazoned. ...
nticised conceptualisation of a world gone by that not only will consumers be attracted to the brand in question but they will associate it wit organic wholeness and strength/durability, among others, and the company in question with environmentalism and corporate social responsibility. Hence, Jeep Cherokee adopts the Washington Redskin logo as a means of communicating durability and the capacity to traverse harsh terrains unscathed, while Land O'Lakes butter and (family) food products display the image of an Indian princess as a means of communicating both organic wholeness and purity.
There is little doubt that, within the context of product branding and corporate positioning, the use of the American Indian image does not, in the greater majority of cases constitute negative stereotyping but, it is stereotyping nonetheless. It involves, as Goings (1994) contends in his study on the use of ethnic and racial images in advertising, the reinforcement and popularisation of racial and ethnic stereotypes, effectively constraining the ability of most to see, or try to understand members of these groups beyond the meaning inherent in popular commercial images and, importantly, commercialises and objectifies members of these groups.
These images, many of which date back decades, are the outcome of a "less enlightened time" as Graham (1993, p. 35) insists but hey have effectively served to ensure the persistency of lack of enlightenment.' As these images traversed the decades, they ensured that the commercialisation and objectification of the Native American become a part of popular culture. They have ensured that brand, product and corporate representations of the Native American become the lens through which popular culture sees, interprets and understands the Native ...Show more


Popular perceptions of what it means to be Indian, or Native American, has been shaped and reinforced by a variety of strategies, some of which have relied on the written word and others on imagery. Commerce, as the stereotyping of the other through corporate logos, brand images and advertising, has functioned as an important purveyor of American Indian stereotypes…
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The stereotyping of Native Americans essay example
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