Native Americans

Suggested Readings on Stereotype vs. Reality

Who are Native Americans? What stereotypes distort non-Native peoples' perceptions of Native people? Some of these books describe the reality; others analyze the stereotypes. Your library (school, college, or public) may have some of these books. A reference librarian in a public or college library may be able to obtain these books for you through the interlibrary loan program. Many of these books are in print, and can be purchased from the publishers or through bookstores.

The Stereotypes

Acoose, Janice, or Misko-KÏsik¦wihkwË (Red Sky Woman). Iskwewak-Kah' Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomkanak: Neither Indian Princesses Nor Easy Squaws, Toronto: Woman's Press, 1995. A deconstruction of the stereotypical images of Indigenous women in popular literature.

Bataille, Gretchen M., & Charles L.P. Silet, editors. The Pretend Indians: Images of Native Americans in the Movies. Ames: The Iowa State University Press, 1980. A collection of essays that analyze the stereotypical treatment of Native Americans in the movies.

Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr. The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978. Beginning with the early colonial period, the author traces the history of stereotyping of Native Americans.

Churchill, Ward. Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema & the Colonialization of American Indians. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1992. Edited by M. Annette Jaimes. A collection of essays in which Native author Ward Churchill analyses stereotyping and misrepresentation as weapons of genocide.

Dilworth, Leah. Imagining Indians in the Southwest: Persistent Visions of a Primitive Past. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press., 1996. The author examines the creation and enduring potency of the early 20th-century myth of the primitive Indians and describes the ways in which Native people have resisted cultural colonialism.

Doxtator, Deborah. Fluffs & Feathers, An Exhibit on the Symbols of Indianness: A Resource Guide. Brantford, Ontario: Wood-land Cultural Centre, 1992. A resource guide prepared to accompany an exhibit designed to examine the false symbols of "Indianness" that help to perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Friar, Ralph E., & Natasha A. Friar. The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1972. Detailed analysis of the stereotyping of Native Americans, especially in film.

Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: The New Press, 1995. (Distributed by W.W. Norton, New York) A critique of high school history textbooks. Includes a good deal of information on what textbooks get wrong or omit about Native Americans.

Mihesuah, Devon A. American Indians: Stereotypes & Realities. Atlanta: Clarity Press, 1996. This useful resource dispels many mis-conceptions and negative stereotypes; also includes a list of do's and don'ts for teaching about Indian history and culture. The author is Choctaw.

The Racism & Sexism Resource Center for Educators. Unlearning Indian Stereotypes: A Teaching Unit for Elementary Teachers & Children's Librarians. New York: The Council on Interracial Books for Children, 1981, 1977. Includes a discussion of stereotyping in picture books, guidelines for teachers, writers, illustrators, and publishers, and a Native American perspective on Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and Washington's Birthday.

The Reality

Anderson, Marilyn, & Johathan Garlock. Granddaughters of Corn: Portraits of Guatemalan Woman. Willimantic, CT: Curb-stone Press, 1988. Describes the everyday reality faced by Mayan women in Guatemala today.

Angel, Adriana, & Fiona Macintosh. The Tiger's Milk: Women of Nicaragua. New York: Seaver Books/Henry Holt & Company, 1987. The stories of Nicaraguan women of today, in their own words.

Armstrong, Virginia Irving. I Have Spoken: American History Through the Voices of the Indians. Athens: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1971. A collection of Native American oratory from the 17th to the 20th-century.

Bordewich, Fergus M. Killing the White Man's Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century. New York: Doubleday., 1996. Presents an in-depth examination of recent political developments in Indian country.

Cash, Joseph H. & Herbert T. Hoover, editors. To Be an Indian: An Oral History. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971. This book consists of interviews with Native people of the Northern Plains conducted during the late 1960s. The topics discussed include spirituality, reservation life, and Indian-white relations.

Garrod, Andrew, & Colleen Larimore, editors. First Person, First Peoples: Native American College Graduates Tell Their Life Stories. Ithaca: Cornell University Press., 1997. Personal accounts by Native American graduates of Dartmouth college.

Hirschfelder, Arlene, editor. Native Heritage: Personal Accounts by American Indians, 1790 to the Present. New York: Macmillan, 1995. Includes over 120 narratives drawn from written and oral histories, autobiographies, newspapers, and journals.

James, Cheewa. Catch the Whisper of the Wind: Inspirational Stories & Proverbs from Native Americans. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1995. Personal stories of Native life from Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills, U.S. Senator Ben Night-horse Campbell, Cherokee states woman Wilma Mankiller, political leader Ada Deer and others. Based on interviews by Cheewa James (Modoc).

Kohn, Rita, & W. Lynwood Montell, editors. Always a People: Oral Histories of Contemporary Woodland Indians. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. Forty-one individuals from a number of woodland nations were interviewed for this book.

McLuhan, T.C. Touch the Earth: A Self-Portrait of Indian Existence. New York: Promontory Press, 1971. A collection of short statements and writings by North American Indians chosen to convey Native history and values. Illustrated with historic photographs.

Nabokov, Peter, editor. Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present. New York: Penguin Books, 1978, 1991. Accounts drawn from a wide range of sources, including traditional narratives, autobiographies, government transcripts, and firsthand interviews.

Niethammer, Carolyn. Daughters of the Earth: The Lives & Legends of American Indian Women. New York: Touchstone/ Simon & Schuster, 1977. A detailed account of the traditional ways of life of Native North American women. Includes numerous short quotations from Native women of the past.

Riley, Patricia, editor. Growing Up Native American. New York: Avon Books, 1993. Twenty-two individuals of the 19th and 20th- centuries describe the experience of growing up Native American.

Rosenstiel, Annette. Red & White: Indian Views of the White Man, 1492-1982. New York: Universe Books, 1983. A chronological collection of Native accounts, including speeches as well as written material.

Vanderwerth, W.C.. Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian Chieftains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971. A collection of speeches by Native American leaders, from the mid-18th-century to the early 20th-century.

Wall, Steve. Wisdom's Daughters: Conversations with Women Elders of Native America. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993. Interviews with Native American women of many nations.

Wall, Steve, & Harvey Arden. Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Leaders. Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing, 1990. Interviews with spiritual leaders from many Native communities.


More Reality

There are many other books that can help the reader gain a better understanding of Native American life and traditions. A good source of such books is The North American Native Authors Catalog, which lists more than 700 books from over ninety publishers. The books include autobiographies, poetry, novels, historical studies, and collections of traditional legends. The catalog is available on line, as well as in a print version.

The North American Native Authors Catalog
The Greenfield Review Press
2 Middle Grove Road P.O. Box 308
Greenfield Center, NY 12833
phone 518-583-1440 fax 518-583-9741


Native American Women

Native American Spirituality, Religion, and Medicine

Cultural and Biological Impacts of European Colonization


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Updated: 09 Mar 2000