Native American stereotypes

Native American stereotypes

Hello everyonetepee sunset

Recently, I have been reading about/on stereotypes regarding Native American people. And I find it sad, frustrating and disheartening that those stereotypes still exist. I think they stem from a lack of knowledge. A lack of knowledge of the history of the people, a history that took place right in our backyard. A history, I feel we cannot hide. Through this site, I am trying to share that history, the history of trauma but also the beauty and the healing that is taking place.


What are those stereotypes you ask? Well let’s start with the one of the “drunk indian who cannot hold his liquor”. Well maybe if alcohol, a spirit, had not been introduced on reserves by the Europeans, as a way to steal the land from the native people, the stereotype would not even exist. Alcohol was introduced and given to natives as a trade for furs, tools, land, you name it. They did not know what it was. They were at times rendered drunk during trading with European, affecting their judgment in their trades. They could then easily be influenced. Their body was not accustomed to it.

“Free” life

How about “indians get everything for free”? Well guess what, indians do NOT get everything for free. Land was stolen from them generations ago, they were forced to live on reserves due to unfair treaties, reserves they were not even free to operate and could not leave without permission. The lands they knew as home, lands where they would hunt, fish, get food, were taken, their access being restricted. They could not hunt or fish like before, they needed permission to do so on their own land. And contrary to popular belief, Native people do pay taxes. They earn money and do not get everything for free. They have paid for what they have, with the lost of their land, their rights (some places did not allow Native people to vote until the 1960’s) and their dignity.

eagle feather

Keep wanting more

What about “indians just keep asking and asking and asking, they are greedy”? Well let’s look at it this way. For more than a century, the Native people were not allowed to practice their traditions, for fear of being killed. Their songs, their music, their ceremonies, were banned, being perceived as “evil”. When in fact, they represented the total opposite of “evil”. Traditions, language and ceremonies are a way to honor one’s ancestors and the Creator, to be thankful, mindful, spiritually connected. But out of ignorance, songs and traditional languages were banished.

For more than a century, native children were taken away from their homes, their communities, tepeestripped of their cultural identity and were placed in Indian residential schools, or Indian boarding schools, operated by the church. The goal? “To take the indian out of the child” or more accurately “to beat the indian out of the child”. Children were dressed in a uniform, punished if they spoke their language or practiced their traditions. They were physically, verbally, emotionally and sexually abused. An inordinate amount of children lost their lives while attending residential schools. They returned to their communities in the summer as strangers. They could not relate to their parents anymore nor could their parents relate to them. Villages without any kids for months at a time. Can you imagine how traumatizing it must have been for families?

Substance abuse

Yes it is true that the Native American population has a higher incidence of substance abuse. Considering what I just said about alcohol as well as the history of trauma in families, is it really surprising? Children were taken away, parents robbed of the chance to be parents, children were scarred for life, families were split apart, abuse of any type was rampant and rights were restricted. Parents were then seen as being unfit and children were taken away by the government, placing them in foster families. In an event referred to as the “Sixties Scoop”, Canadian Aboriginal children were literally “scooped” from their families to be placed either in residential schools, in Caucasian Canadian families or placed for adoption in the United States or Western Europe. An estimated 20 000 children were “scooped” over a period of 20 years. The goal? Cultural assimilation. The result? Intergenerational trauma. For all members of the family, the tribe, the nation. Trauma, including repeating the abuse suffered in residential school, was passed down from generation to generation with no coping skills. A higher incidence of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, a high incidence of native people in our prison system. 

It is said that what we do affect the next seven generations. But it goes both ways, i.e. positive eagleschanges can also affect the next seven generations. I think we are starting to see positive changes. By going back to the traditional ways, to the Red Road principles. By living a honest and simple life. But I get frustrated when I hear some say about native people “why don’t they just get over it”? Would you say that to a Jewish person whose family had died at Auschwitz? I did not think so.

Take the time to watch the video below addressing stereotypes about Native people. Very powerful


Mitakuye Oyasin


22 thoughts on “Native American stereotypes

  1. Ed

    Hi Emily,
    Your post Native American stereotypes is very powerful. I can definitely see that people would use stereotypes because they’re not properly educated. Unfortunately we probably won’t be ablr to fix this problem but just end up enduring it.

    1. Emily Post author

      well it can be true Ed. But I think that b sharing the historical context and the concept of intergenerational trauma, a difference can be made. By also sharing the beauty and the traditional ways of healing. The way of our ancestors

  2. Chris Towers

    I agree with what you say when you mention people and cultures being stereotyped or criticized simple because people have a lack of knowledge.

    You have put some excellent information together here and I have certainly learned something.



  3. Neil

    Hi Emily, very powerful message, everyone deserves to be treated with the same respect in this day and age. Australian Aboriginals have the same kind of problems. It would be great to have a higher resolution available on the video. Nice website!

  4. Brittni Sue

    Hi Emily! Another good article here on Native American Stereotypes. It truly is sad that so many of these still exist today. I have definitely learned some things after reading your article ….. and I think it will be an eye-opener for many. Great job on educating people about this!

  5. Cat

    I was aware of the horrifying history that the Native American peoples endured, but I was not aware of the stereotypes still being a problem today. This post is both troubling and educational, and I think more people certainly need to be educated about this topic.

    You nailed it in the first paragraph when you said that the stereotypes stem from a lack of knowledge and understanding. I think it’s how all stereotypes begin and persist. It reminds me of my own line of work in the sex industry.

    I heard something not long ago pertaining to those residential schools. Some kind of apology from the Prime Minister and a settlement or something of that nature. I clearly don’t have all the facts, but I remember thinking that you can’t fix that history with words or with money, but I wonder what your thoughts are on that public apology?

    We can’t fix the past, but we can move forward with better understanding and learn to accept each other with all our differences and unfamiliar ways. Thank you for posting this thought provoking article.


    1. Emily Post author

      thanks for your comment Cat. Residential schools were detrimental in so many ways and on so many levels.They tore families apart and literally ruined children for life. I don’t think an apology or money being given will ever make it up. Especially if the same stereotypes continue to be perpetuated. Trauma is just being relived with those steretoypes

      1. Cat

        I really don’t think so either, Emily. Your website is coming along very nicely and I definitely hope it will have an impact. You’ll reach a lot of people with a site like this and that will lead to better understanding. I’m no psychic, but I see a future where people look at people with understanding and knowledge rather than preconceived ideas or stereotypes.

        It may be far off yet, but women can vote and massage therapy is a socially acceptable career choice today. Small (relatively speaking) progress like this is why I think we will continue to progress as a society.

        1. Emily Post author

          you are right Cat, there is progress. Unfortunately for progress to happen, people need to have an open mind and some don’t…The native culture and way of life is all about respect, respecting all your relations on Mother Earth. Everyone deserves respect and one apology for over 100 years of abuse won’t cover it or make it ok. Only by changing behaviors and thoughts will it change. But progress has been made

  6. Dren

    Wow! Thats a great amount of information. Content like this amazes me. It really shows just how much time and effort you have put into your work. This is the place to be if you’re researching anything relevant to Native Americans.

    Good job!

    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Dren! Yes lots of time and effort went into this but it’s worth it to share the history and beauty of the people 🙂

  7. Billy Bart

    Excellent blog. I have been saying this for years, but I think the stereo-types will be for another 7 generations before people will treat us on an equal basis and we’ll have to continue to turn the other cheek until then. The Europeans have learned to handle alcohol for thousands of years and it will be a double sword for us to learn to use it moderately and not to use it as an anti-depressant for our upbringing and our treatment of the past. I thank you for trying to teach the populate but we have to better educate ourselves that drugs, booze, jail and dropping out of school will not better our people. Getting back to the traditions that we lost over those years of residential housing and inadequate foster care, we have to try twice as hard to recover. Not only to prove to the rest of the population but to prove to ourselves that nothing can hold us down ever. All we ask of society is to be equal and to respect what has been bestowed on our people and how far we have come and what we can contribute to better this world. Our Creator is for all mankind and we share Him and our traditions to anyone who may want to learn. We have to realize we will never have the freedom of a thousand years ago but have to learn to cope, “live” with what the Creator’s beauty is still left in this world and continue to try and preserve this beauty. The government has always thought they knew what is the best for us and society in general but will continue to apologize for their disruptive abuse of power but our instincts will help us teach and fight for our Creator’s land, water, air and freedom of thought ( Our Traditions )…and can only turn our cheeks for so long before they try to take the last 4 things we have left. The government doesn’t seem to be fighting for these 4 resources as they slowly deplete and spoil but I am quite positive we are smarter than they will ever be, because they haven’t destroyed us yet as hard as they’ve tried. They have given us small parcels of land, poisoned our reserve water, polluted our air and discriminated against our women but we will rise above their ignorance and prove we are not their portrayal of uneducated drunks in the gutter. Sorry, getting carried away here. Just wanted to thank you Emily for this forum – ‘”a place of truth”

    1. Emily Post author

      your response touches me deeply. I feel your frustration, your pain but also your strength. The Native population is one heck of a strong population! The people have gone through so much, so much being stolen, taken away, banned, killed. But yet they survived. The history of trauma is astronomical but so is beauty of the people. The beauty of the traditions, of the principles, of the way of life given to us by the Creator.

      I truly believe that the Red Road is the way of healing. Even if sticking to it is difficult in a society that does not fully understand it. But the peace, the strength, the love and the harmony that come with it are worth it. I think you for your comment Billy from the bottom of my heart. A’Ho


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