Stereotypes About Native Americans

Amy Kearns

A Wise Man Said...

For a subject worked and reworked so often in novels, motion pictures, and television, American Indians are...the least understood and the most misunderstood Americans of us all.

John F. Kennedy, 1963

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand. - Tribe Unknown.

Who are indigenous people and what makes them different?

"There does not seem to be one definitive definition of indigenous people, but generally indigenous people are those that have historically belonged to a particular region or country, before its colonization or transformation into a nation state, and may have different—often unique—cultural, linguistic, traditional, and other characteristics to those of the dominant culture of that region or state." 1
  1. "Rights of Indigenous People." - Global Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.

Typical Stereotypes...

Racial Slur: Native Americans. Are you guilty of using any of these?

Alcoholic Known to have a hard time handling their liquor.

BFI The "Big Fucking Indian" at the back of the bar you don't want to piss off.

Big Red A fat native person. Reference to the gum with the same name.

Blanket-Ass From when the US Government gave tribes blankets.. I guess to make up for killing so many of them. The blankets were also rumored to be infested with smallpox.

Bow Bender Indians shot bows.

Buck The male equivalent of "squaw"

Casino In reference to the many casinos popping up on Indian reservations all over America

Chief Self-explanatory.

Chug Refers to alcoholism in Native Americans. They chug it back.

Diesel Rhyming slang, diesel engine = injun

Dirt-Worshipper Made popular by HBO's "Deadwood"

Eskimo Eskimo was once acceptable in Canada, and still is almost anywhere else. It means "raw meat eater." Eskimo orginated from southern Indian tribes describing the northern Inuit, whom they were constantly fighting. Inuit take offence to being called Eskimos, despite the fact that they do eat raw meat.

Feather Used to differentiate Indians from India ("Dots") from those from America ("Feathers").

Featherhead Comes from Native American tribes that wore feathered headdresses.

Gasbag Some Natives are commonly prone to 'huffing' gas out of a plastic bag.

Glonni Navajo for drunk. Extremely offensive to anyone who speaks Navajo.

Indian Indians come from India, not North/South America. Offensive because original American settlers from Europe completely misnamed them.

John Redcorn The Native Americans character on the animated show King of the Hill is named John Redcorn

Knee Jerk Subset of Native American indicating person who was at Wounded Knee incident in South Dakota in the '70s; Member of A.I.M. (American Indian Movement)

Maize-Muncher Natives are known for there love of corn.

Mascot Their likeness is often mascots for sports teams

Mohow Indians have Mohawks & Pow wows.

Muck Short for "Muckleshoot", one of the most stereotypical and despised tribes of the Pacific Northwest

Neechee Love of Lychee fruit.

Nit Chivington ordered him men: "kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice" just before the Sand Creek massacre in 1864. This was an explination as to why troops were ordered to kill Indian children.

Pow Wow Their calls

Red Skin color.

Redskin The term Redskin, came from two places, the skin color, then the cruel torture of skinning Native Americans for a bounty. Since their skin was red they started saying "red skins."

Scalper Based on the Native American practice of scalping enemies.

Semihole Referring to the Seminole tribe.

Squanto Name of a Native American who helped the English colonists in Massachusetts develop agricultural techniques and served as an interpreter between the colonists and the Wampanoag.

Squaw Refers to Native American women. Usually thought to refer to a woman's vagina, but this is fairly controversial.

Tee-Pee Creeper Some live in tee-pees.

Tonto Native American character from The Lone Ranger. Spanish for "Idiot"

Wagon-Burner They burnt wagons

Wahoo War Cry, there was also a famous Native American wrestler named Wahoo McDaniel in the 80's.

War Whoop Refers to the traditional Native American war cry. 2.


2. "Native Americans." The Racial Slur Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.