Redface refers to the creation and propagation of racist American Indian stereotypes and caricatures. It also describes the systematic bias against hiring real Native Americans to play Native American roles shown by white producers, directors, and others who control the depiction of Native Americans in popular culture through casting decisions. 

The history of American Indian stereotyping has had important cultural consequences, the full import of which is not readily apparent. Ask yourself these questions: Is the childhood game of Cowboys and Indians the cultural equivalent of Germans playing a similar game that might be called Nazis and Jews? Why would we tolerate one and not the other?


Racist Indian Stereotypes


Indian Chief

Most American Indian 'chiefs' were never actually chiefs. It was a common name Whites gave to Indian leaders.

Indian Princess

There were no actual Indian Princesses because there is no such thing as Indian royalty. The Princess stereotype was created to legitimize female Native Americans as potential mates for Whites.

Indian Noble Savage
Noble Savage

A primitive man living in harmony with the natural world and unspoiled by civilized vices.

Indian Renegade

Renegades refuse to live on the reservation and are at war with Whites

Indian Warrior Brave

Indian braves are the adult males who have proven their courage in hunting or in battle.

Indian Squaw

The Indian Squaw is quiet and almost invisible as she serves her husband; scraping and stretching hides, weaving, cooking, and child-rearing.


The Rich Indian Stereotype

Because of the recent proliferation of casinos on Indian lands, Americans are beginning to view Indians as rich, greedy, and corrupt. Like European Jews, Native Americans have developed particular financial industries because they have been denied control over land, and left with few other economic options. And like the myth of the "rich Jew," the myth of the "rich Indian" implies that all tribal members are swimming in money. The truth is that most tribes are heavily in debt, cutting budgets, and still being shaken down by state governments.


All Indians Look Alike?

By the time "Injuns" made it to the Western movies of the 1950s, directors generalized many Sioux traditions - such as hunting and feather headdresses - to all Indians. "The old movies rely on a homogenized Indian," says Karen Biestman of the University of California. "He is usually male, wears buckskin, beads, feathers, has a pinto pony, and is savage, uncaring, and brutal. But it's a shallow image. We don't see families, caring, a sense of community, spirituality, or day-to-day life."



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Redface! -- Contents

Racist Indian Stereotypes

History of Indian Stereotypes

Redface in Film and TV

Indian Myths vs Reality

Indian Stereotypes in Sports

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Black Stereotypes

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Asian Stereotypes

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Hispanic Stereotypes

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Indian Stereotypes

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Arab Stereotypes

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Jewish Stereotypes


Racial and Racist Stereotypes in Media


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Padgett, Kenneth. Redface! - The History of Racist American Indian Stereotypes. Web. 23 July 2021. <>.

Ken Padgett