Media as Constructor of Ethnic Minority Identity: A Native American Case Study

  • Ritva Levo-Henriksson


Media representations and concepts of ethnic minorities on those representations become important if one tries to understand the media’s role as constructor of ethnic self-identity. Native Americans provide a classic example—synonymous here with “American Indian.” In Canada, the term “First Nations” is often used (Iverson, 1998, p. 4) along with “indigenous,” when referring to indigenous people of the world (cf. Alia, 1999). Their media representations have been quite one-sided and uniform, imitating the model of the nineteenth century Plains Indians as created by Hollywood (Hilger, 1995; Churchill, 1998; Kilpatrick, 1999; Bataille, 2001; Pearson, 2001; Rollins and O’Connor, 2003; Aleiss, 2005). Elizabeth Bird (1999) discusses how representations of American Indians are structured in predictable, gendered ways: Women are faceless, rather sexless squaws in minor roles, or sexy exotic princesses or maidens who desire white men. Men are either handsome young warriors, or safe, sexless wise elders.


Ethnic Minority Indigenous People Ethnic Identity Native People Radio Station 
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© Linda K. Fuller 2007

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  • Ritva Levo-Henriksson

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