I’m not quite sure how to react…

A few weeks ago, my friend showed me this video because she knew I was taking a class about Native Americans. The video was sent to her for her Religion in Popular Culture class, looking at how people “play Native American.” In watching the video, I had mixed feelings and figured I would share it to see what other people thought. Here is the video:

These satirical videos have become increasingly popular on Youtube recently, and my thoughts are divided on whether they are bringing important issues to the public’s attention or helping to perpetuate stereotypes. On the one hand, the video does hit on some important issues regarding stereotypes that are circulating throughout mainstream America, such as headdresses, teepees, alcoholism, and environmentalism. It also looks at misconceptions that Americans have about Native American beliefs and lifestyle. Finally, it points out the ignorance that most Americans have about the diversity that exists between different tribes (and minorities for that matter) and the historical struggles that many Native American tribes went through that shaped how they live today. Not only does it hit an enormous number of issues that we talked about in class, but it also addresses them in a way that is interesting and funny, which may be more appealing to the American public.

However, I also feel that this video may be offensive because it makes fun of serious issues that have real life consequences for many Native Americans. Additionally, by playing off of common stereotypes, this video may simply be perpetuating these inaccurate views of Native American cultures and lifestyles. Finally, in the comments it says that the video is “made by 110% Native Americans.” Ignoring the improbable nature of that percentage, the comment raised a concern for me. Does being in the ethnic group make it alright to bring up these stereotypes? This is a phenomenon that I encounter a lot during my life, and it always makes me wonder: why is it offensive for an outsider to stereotype a group, while it is acceptable for someone of that race to endorse these stereotypes? Should this really be okay?

Overall, I feel that the video is funny while still addressing important issues that the public need to be made aware of. Yet, I still worry about whether this video is degrading for Native Americans who are struggling with these issues and would not appreciate them being addressed in such a flippant manner. These were my thoughts. What are yours?

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One thought on “I’m not quite sure how to react…

  1. I think the fact that it is made by Native people makes a big difference. It is satirical and not “laughing at”. From our perspective, it is showing the ridiculousness of how little people know about Native Americans and the things they say. Of course, there is always difficulties with humor. Will people understand the underlying messages or just see it as making fun of an ethnic group? Unfortunately, humor doesn’t always have the intended effect on everyone, but I think this is generally doing good.

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