Indigenous People

From the book: American Indians: Stereotypes & Realities
by Devon A. Mihesuah

1. Stereotype:
Indians are all alike.
In America alone, there are approximately 2.1 million Indians, belonging to 511 culturally distinct federally recognized tribes or an additional 200 or so unrecognized tribes. They live in a variety of environments, either on 286 U.S. reservations, or off reservation in rural areas or cities.

2. Stereotype:
Indians were conquered because they were inferior.
Indians were conquered because of their lack of immunity to European diseases.

3. Stereotype:
If Indians had united, they could have prevented the European invasion.
Tribes were too different culturally and lived too far apart to fight together as a cohesive unit.

4. Stereotype:
Indians had no civilization until Europeans brought it to them.
Indians were civilized. Their cultures were different from those of Europeans.

5. Stereotype:
Indians arrived in this hemisphere via the Siberian land bridge.
Indians believe that they were created in this hemisphere.

6. Stereotype:
Indians were warlike and treacherous.
Indians fought to defend their lands, sovereignty and way of life from invaders.

7. Stereotype:
Indians had nothing to contribute to Europeans or the growth of America.
The contributions of American Indians have changed and enriched the world.
8. Stereotype:
Indian tribes did not value or empower women.
Indian women often wielded considerable power within their tribes.

9. Stereotype:
Indians have no religion.
Indians are deeply religious. Each tribe has its own religion.

10. Stereotype:
Indians welcome outsiders to study and participate in their religious ceremonies.
Indians often practice their religions secretly and want outsiders to respect their desire for privacy.

11. Stereotype:
Indians are a vanished race.
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