Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Kay Yandell

Committee Member

Sean Teuton

Second Committee Member

Lisa Hinrichsen

Abstract

Native Americans have long been, and continue to be, victims of racism, microaggression, and stereotyping. This continued exposure to violence, degradation, belittling, and discrimination work in the forefront to historical trauma and unresolved grief which has led to an increase in the numbers of individuals suffering from mental illness within the Indigenous population. Colonization created a long history of trauma and genocide that effects generations of Native American people, not just the individuals on which the horrific sins were committed. Using the lens of disability studies, this project will examine the ways in which portrayals of Native American people in popular culture have served to further this historical trauma.

Beginning in the nineteenth century and moving into the twenty-first century, it will examine representations of Native American people in George Catlin’s Indian Gallery, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, film, and literature. Establishing the foundation of continued Euro-American and European racism, microaggression, and stereotyping in popular culture and examining the ways in which contemporary Native American authors respond to these issues in their literature and the patterns that evolve in their search for narrative answers, it hopes to draw attention to the effects of colonialism, racism, stereotyping, and discrimination on Native American people.

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