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This paper critically discusses the film industry as well as pop culture that have shaped the way how Native Americans are viewed today. Twentieth- century film and popular culture have created countless stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans, portraying them through negative and disturbing images - as wild savages, bloodthirsty killers, thieves, rapists, kidnappers, beggars, less intelligent beings, scalp collectors, relentless trackers and as inferior human beings in every possible way.
Furthermore, the images that the film industry established have been used by other popular media and the entertainment industry, including team sports mascots, history books, comic books, video games and commercials. They have all continued Hollywood’s legacy of stereotypes only to make profit, entertain the masses, and finally, to mentally destroy real Native Americans.
In the past Native Americans were ruthlessly hunted down and killed, deceived into selling their land, deprived of their traditional lifestyle and confined to reservations. Nowadays, Native Americans have to fight against the mainstream media that are robbing them off their own identity.
However, some films such as Dances with Wolves (1990) and Powwow Highway (1989) marked the beginning of a break with traditional stereotypes by portraying Native Americans as real, living human beings. Consequently, in the second half of the twentieth century a mental and spiritual war path of Native Americans for their cultural and religious legacy began.