Before digging deep down into Straight Arrow’s character, I suppose I should share with you a birds-eye view of Native American people or red Indians to whom we consider as a part of history but do they actually are a part of history or not? It can be answered by reading the following paragraphs.
So the story starts before Columbus reached the Bahamas. A different group of people discovered America thousands of years before Christopher Columbus’ ships arrived in the Bahamas: the nomadic predecessors of modern Native Americans: who hiked over a “land bridge” from Asia to Alaska more than 15,000 years ago. In fact, experts speculate that more than 50 million people lived in the Americas by the time European explorers arrived in the 15th century A.D. Ten million of these people lived in the region that would eventually become the United States. These immigrants and their descendants moved south and east over time, changing as they went. Anthropologists and geographers have divided these diverse groups into “community zones,” or informal groupings of contiguous peoples who shared common environments and characteristics to keep track of them.
Most scholars divide North America into ten distinct cultural zones, except present-day Mexico. The Arctic, Subarctic, Northeast, Southeast, Plains, Southwest, Great Basin, California, Northwest Coast, and Plateau are divided zones.
Developed Native American tribes were usually considered semi-independent nations when the United States was formed, as they lived in communities separate from white settlers. Before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871, when the federal government stopped recognizing autonomous native nations and began considering them as “domestic dependent nations” subject to federal law, the federal government negotiated treaties on a government-to-government basis. The rights and privileges agreed to in the treaties, including a significant degree of tribal sovereignty, were preserved by this statute.
There are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States, with around half of them residing on Indian reservations. Indigenous tribes from the continental United States, as well as Alaska Natives, are considered “Native Americans” (as specified by the United States Census).
Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Chamorro are examples of indigenous peoples in the United States that are not American Indians or Alaska Natives. These people are classified as “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander” by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Living Native Americans’ ancestors arrived in what is now the United States through Beringia at least 15,000 years ago and probably much earlier.
European colonization of the Americas, which started in 1492, resulted in a sudden and dramatic decrease in the Native American population because of new diseases to which they had no immunity, i.e., Chicken pox and Malaria and other hostilities, cultural purging, and enslavement. Native American self-determination movements have ensued developments to Native Americans’ lives since the 1960s. However, there are still many challenges that Native Americans face today, which include racism and societal inequality, mascots of Native Americans in Sports, artistic representations of historical events, differences in terminology, services in the financial sector, on reservations, economic growth obstacles, and landownership issues. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States, with 78 percent of them living outside reservations. The states with the highest Native American populations are California, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The vast majority of Native Americans reside in small towns or rural areas.
There are eighteen major tribes of Native Americans, about whom I will share some exciting facts. There is a misconception about Native Americans that people usually think they all belong to one tribe and collectively make an ethnic group. Indeed they have a separate ethnic entity, but there are a lot of subgroups amongst them who all are different from each other.
A North American Indian tribe of Iroquoian ancestry constituted one of the most politically integrated tribes in America at the time of European colonization. Their name comes from a Creek word that means “people of various speeches,” but many prefer to be called Keetoowah or Tsalagi. They are thought to have numbered about 22,500 people in 1650, and they occupied about 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) of the Appalachian Mountains what is now Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina, and South Carolina. Traditional Cherokee life and culture are strikingly similar to that of the Creek and other Southeast tribes. The Cherokee nation was made up of a symbiotic alliance of red (war) and white (peace) cities. Specific red town chiefs were subordinated to a supreme war chief, while white town leaders were subordinated to a supreme peace chief.
Art and culture:
The Cherokee had several stone tools, including knives, spears, and chisels, when Spanish explorers encountered them in the mid-16th century. They grew corn (maize), beans, and squash and wove baskets, made pottery and grew corn (maize), beans, and squash. Deer, bear, and elk provided meat and clothing. Cherokee homes were log cabins with one door and a smoke hole in the roof, with a bark-roofed roof and no windows. A typical Cherokee town had between 30 and 60 such houses and a council house where general meetings and a sacred fire were held. The Busk, or Green Corn, festival, first fruits, and new-fires feast, was a significant religious observance.
The Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Mimbreo, Ndendahe (Bedonkohe or Mogollon and Nednhi or Carrizaleo and Janero), Salinero, Plains (Kataka or Semat or “Kiowa-Apache”), and Western Apache (Aravaipa, Pinaleo, Coyotero, Tonto) are a community of cultural Apache. The Apache and the Navajo are distant relatives who speak the Southern Athabaskan languages. Apache communities can be found in Oklahoma and Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apaches have settled throughout the United States and beyond, including in urban areas. Politically independent, the Apache Nations speak a variety of languages and have distinct cultures.
Giant mountains, fertile and watered valleys, canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains have all been part of the Apache homelands in the past, including what is now Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado. Apacheria is the common name for these regions.
For decades, the Apache tribes battled the invading Spanish and Mexican, peoples. The first Apache attacks on Sonora are thought to have occurred in the late seventeenth century.
The Navajos, also known as Navaho in British English and Navajo in American English, are Native American people from the Southwest United States. With over 300,000 tribal members as of 2015, the Navajo Nation is the country’s largest federally recognized tribe (the Cherokee Nation is the second-largest). The Navajo Nation also has the country’s largest reservation. The reservation spans more than 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) of land in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, straddling the Four Corners area. The Navajo language is widely spoken in the region, and the majority of Navajos also speak English. Arizona (140,263) and New Mexico (140,263) have the largest Navajo populations (108,306). These two states are home to more than three-quarters of the enrolled Navajo population. A small group of ethnic Navajos is members of the federally recognized Colorado River Indian Tribes, in addition to the Navajo Nation.
Najavo in 1951.
Dinébizaad ‘People’s language’ is a Na-Dené Southern Athabaskan language spoken by the Navajos. The word Navajo comes from Spanish missionaries and historians who used it to refer to the Pueblo Indians, even though they called themselves the Diné, which means “the people.”
The Navajos were primarily hunters and gatherers until they contacted the Pueblo (a Native American tribe dependent upon agriculture cultivation) and Spanish peoples. The tribes adopted Pueblo crop-farming techniques, primarily growing corn, beans, and squash known as the “Three Sisters.” The Navajos started keeping and herding livestock—sheep and goats—as a leading source of trade and food after being inspired by Spanish colonists. The Navajo diet became increasingly dependent on meat. Sheep became a source of currency and a status symbol among the Navajos, based on the number of herds a family kept. Women also started spinning and weaving wool into blankets and clothes.
As a result of battle, captive adoption, and providing sanctuary to displaced peoples, the Iroquois have assimilated many more individuals from other peoples into individual families of their tribes. Adoptees are regarded as full members of the families, clans, and tribes into which they are adopted when they have fully integrated. Adoptees have traditionally married into tribes, and some have gone on to become chiefs or revered elders.
Art and decorations:
Animal, geometrical, and human iconography appear in Iroquois art from the 16th and 17th centuries, as seen on bowls, ceramics, and clay pipes. Moose hair was sometimes used as a decorative element on tumpline’s and weight straps. Porcupine quillwork, generally in geometrical designs, was sewed into bags, clothes, and moccasins. The “big turtle” upon which North America was thought to rest, the circular “skydome,” and wavy motifs were among the other motifs. Semi-circles and waves were frequently seen on beads and clothing, representing the “skydome,” which included the entire universe as well as the supernatural world above it, parallel lines for the earth, and curved lines for the “celestial tree.” Floral designs were originally introduced in the 17th century, although they did not become widely popular until the 19th century, owing to French influence. Iroquois art began to showcase floral designs on moccasins, headgear, pouches, and pincushions that were acquired by Euro-Americans around 1850. The Iroquois artwork intended for sale to whites in the nineteenth century had a strong “Victoriana” feel to it, according to British historian Michael Johnson. From the 17th century forward, the Iroquois placed a high value on silver, and beginning in the 18th century, they became “great silversmiths,” producing silver earrings, gorgets, and rings.
Festivals: Six main festivals are observed by the Iroquois throughout the year. These usually include a spiritual component and ceremony, as well as a feast, an opportunity to celebrate with others, sports, entertainment, and dancing
Historically, these celebrations have been centered on the seasons and based on the natural cycle rather than fixed calendar dates.
The Mid-winter festival (“The supreme belief”), for example, brings in the New Year. This celebration lasts for a week around the end of January or the beginning of February, depending on when the new moon falls that year.
The Sioux, also known as the OcetiSakowin, are a group of Native American tribes and peoples from North America. The modern Sioux are categorized into two different groups based on language: Dakota and Lakota; they are known collectively as the Ohéthiakówi (“Seven Council Fires”). The word “Sioux” is an ethnonym generated from a French translation of the Ojibwe term “Nadouessioux” and may refer to any ethnicity or language variation within the Great Sioux Nation. The Santee Dakota (Isáyathi; “Knife,” also known as the Eastern Dakota) existed around Lake Superior just before the 17th century, with territories in what is now northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. They fished with canoes, collected wild rice, and hunted forest animals. Throughout the 1700s, wars with the Ojibwe forced the Dakota into southern Minnesota, where they settled as the Western Dakota (Yankton, Yanktonai) and Teton (Lakota). The Dakota concluded treaties with the United States in the 1800s, giving up most of their land in Minnesota. The Dakota War of 1862 was sparked by the United States’ failure to make treaty payments on time and lackof food supplies. As a result of this war, the Dakota were forced to relocate from Minnesota to reservations in Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Canada. After 1870, the Dakota people started to return to Minnesota, establishing the state’s current reservations. The Dakota and Lakota would continue to fight for their treaty rights in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the Wounded Knee incident, Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Today, the Sioux have several tribal governments spread through many reservations, communities, and reserves in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota in U.S and Manitoba, and Alberta in Canada.
The Crow, whose autonym is Apsáalooke also spelled Absaroka, are Native Americans living primarily in southern Montana, Today, the Crow people have a federally recognized tribe, the Crow Tribe of Montana, with an Indian reservation located in the south-central part of the state.Crow Indians are a Plains tribe, who speak the Crow language, part of the Missouri River Valley branch of Siouan languages. Of the 14,000 enrolled tribal members, an estimated 3,000 spoke the Crow language in 2007. The Crow Nation cooperated with the US against its neighbors and rivals, the Sioux and Cheyenne, during the Westward movement. The Crow once resided in the Yellowstone River basin, which runs from present-day Wyoming through Montana and North Dakota before joining the Missouri River.
Crow people have been confined on their reserve south of Billings, Montana, since the 19th century. They now reside in a number of large cities, mostly in Western countries. Crow Agency, Montana is home to the tribe’s headquarters. Little Big Horn College is run by the tribe.
The American bison, which was hunted in a variety of methods, was the Crow’s primary food source. Bison were killed on foot before horses were used, and hunters had to stalk close to the bison, often in wolf-pelt mask, and then chase them down on foot before killing them with arrows or lances. The horse made it easier for the Crow to hunt bison and to hunt more at once. Riders would frighten the herd into a stampede, then shoot or lance the targeted animals through the heart with arrows or bullets fired from their horses. The Crow hunted bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, elk, bear, and other animals in addition to bison. Buffalo meat was frequently grilled or cooked with prairie turnips in a stew. The tongue, rump, liver, heart, and kidneys were all regarded as delicacy. Pemmican was made by grinding dried bison meat with fat and fruit.
Gender-specific attire was worn by the Crow. Women wore deer and buffalo hide gowns embellished with elk teeth or shells. During the winter, they wore leggings and moccasins to keep their legs warm. Crow women braided their hair twice.
A shirt, trimmed leggings with a belt, a long breechcloth, and moccasins were typical male attire. In the winter, robes made from the fur of a bison were popular. Leggings were constructed of either animal hide or wool, which were highly prized trading commodities created expressly for Indians in Europe. Their hair was left long, reaching the ground in some cases.
The Crow are known for having their hair in a pompadour, which was typically painted white. Crow men were known for wearing two beaded hair pipes on both sides of their heads. Men’s hair was frequently braided and covered in beaver or otter fur. Bear grease was used to make hair shine. Warriors and medicine men frequently wore stuffed birds in their hair. Crows, like other plains Indians, wore eagle, crow, owl, and other bird feathers in their hair for symbolic purposes. The famed eagle feather headdress, bison scalp headdress with horns and beaded rim, and split horn headpiece were all worn by the Crow people.
The Comanche were from Great Plains, a Native-American tribe whose ancestral territories included much of present-day northwestern Texas and neighboring areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northern Chihuahua. The federal government acknowledges the Comanche people in the United States as the Comanche nation based in Lawton, Oklahoma. The Comanche language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family of Numic languages. It started as a Shoshoni language but has since evolved into its own language. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Comanche were the most powerful tribe on the southern Great Plains. They became known as the “Lords of the Plains,” and they ruled over a vast territory known as Comancheria, which included huge swaths of modern-day Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Bison, horses, trade, and raiding were all critical to the Comanche. Most Comanches were forced to live on reservations after being annihilated by European diseases, warfare, and American intrusion on Comancheria; a few, however, found refuge with the Mescalero Apaches in New Mexico or the Kickapoos in Mexico. In the 1890s and early 1900s, a number of them returned. The Comanche Nation has 17,000 members in the twenty-first century, with around 7,000 of them living in tribal jurisdictional areas, including Lawton, Fort Sill, and the surrounding areas of southwestern Oklahoma. In mid-July, the Comanche Homecoming Annual Dance is held in Walters, Oklahoma. Bison, horses, trade, and raiding were all significant to the Comanche. The Comanche hunted Great Plains bison for food and skins; they adopted the horse from Spanish colonists in New Mexico, making them more portable, and they traded with the Spanish, French, and Native Americans. Our epic character of Streight A0rrow (Steve Adam) belongs to the same tribe.
Native American’s Civilization
Before the discovery of America by Columbus, the civilization residing in America was Native Americans. They were a group of tribes having different branches of one civilization. Different tribes of Native American formed one greater civilization called Native American who was living there for a long. Columbus’ expeditions to the “New World” in 1492 marked the start of European conquests of the Americas. Smallpox and measles were among the diseases brought by the Europeans. These new diseases soon spread among Native Americans. They annihilated the residents of several indigenous cities.
Europeans began colonizing the Americas in order to cultivate new farmlands and generate new occupations for Europe’s rapidly increasing population. To accomplish so, they frequently engaged in land wars with Native American tribal nations. In these confrontations, the Europeans had an edge due to a number of causes. They possessed some immunity to their own diseases, for starters. As a result, they were not as badly affected as Native Americans. Second, in battle, the Europeans had horses and firearms, which outclassed the Native Americans’ hand weapons and arrows. Third, European settlements in the Americas spread so quickly that descendants of Europeans eventually outnumbered natives.
Under Spanish domination, aboriginal peoples in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America were forced to work as peasants and laborers. Outsiders have found it economical to colonize the tropical lowland woods in recent decades due to advancements in transportation and earth-moving gear. Those tribal countries’ way of existence is now in jeopardy as well.
Native American numbers are on the rise again on both continents today. Native American leaders are having more political success in defending their people’s rights.
Native American tribal tribes fought colonization, but many were finally compelled to relinquish their territory. Survivors were rounded up and forcibly relocated to reservations in present-day southern Canada, the United States, and southern South America.
Discrimination against Native Americans: A myth or reality?
There is always a claim by the champions of humanity for equal rights, no discrimination, and equal opportunities for everyone. But do these slogans are equally implemented for Native Americans or they are mere claims? The presence of discrimination against Native Americas can be traced back to the very beginning of the European invasion, the Indian Removal Act; to occupy the territory of Native Americans is another act of discrimination. The history of discrimination has a long tail till the present. But my main emphasis is on culture. Here I want to share my views with my readers that how culture is important for one’s identity.
An example of such culture hi-jacking is the “Civilize Native Americans” program through which the Washington administration planned to hijack Red Indian territory. Apparently, the purpose of this program was to civilizing the Red Indians so that they could easily get mingled with American society. Although new ideas and techniques were exchanged from both sides, and despite the fact that some Indians began to hold new perspectives on work and property, they did not forsake their belief that all land belonged to their tribes, and even those who moved toward commercial agriculture and other endeavors were hesitant to give up their land. The concept of community ownership and American ideals of individual land ownership was at clash. The fact that the land was owned by Indians, who were considered as “savages” and racially inferior to white Americans, irritated white Americans more than the nature of Indian landholding. The Creeks gave white people a new moniker because of increasing demands for cessions of Indian land. Ecunnaunuxulgee is a word that comes to mind when you think about the “people greedily grasping after the lands of the red people.” This title was given by creeks to White Americans.
In 1879, in the name of caviling Native American U.S cavalry Captain Richard Henry Pratt opened a boarding school in Pennsylvania called Carlisle Indian Industrial School- An institution backed by the government that forcefully separated children from native parents and put them in boarding school in order to make them civilized. As Pratt said:
“Kill the Indian in him and save the man” shows how culture is important for a person to keep him fastened from his roots.
From: (Library of Congress)
Apart from the past till the present day of the 21st century, several examples can be found of American discrimination against native people. Specifically, in Hollywood movies and comic series Native Americans are presented as thugs, morons, uncivilized, barbaric, and most of the time they role as sidekicks. White heroes are almost incomplete without an Indian sidekick. Except for Streight Arrow, not even a single comic character played as a main or lead, always whites are portrayed as heroes. Lone Ranger and Tonto is an example of my assertions.
Tonto is a fictitious character who is a Native American (either Comanche or Potawatomi) who is the Lone Ranger’s Native American friend. He was developed by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker. Tonto has appeared in a number of radio and television shows, as well as other media, depicting the characters’ adventures in the 19th century western United States. “Tonto” means “stupid person,” “moron,” or “fool” in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The character’s original name is kept in the Italian version, but he is dubbed as “Toro” (Spanish for “bull”) or “Ponto” in the Spanish version. Tonto made his first appearance on the 11th episode of the radio show, which aired on the WXYZ radio station in Detroit, Michigan. Tonto was established solely to provide the Lone Ranger with someone with whom to converse, despite the fact that he became well recognized as the Lone Ranger’s friend. Tonto was performed by American actor John Todd throughout the radio run (which lasted 21 years) with only a few deviations. Todd also played the character in the Republic movie serials The Lone Ranger and The Lone Ranger Rides Again. Tonto had been portrayed as an aging sidekick on the radio series up to this point. Tonto had his own comic book, The Lone Ranger’s Companion Tonto, which ran for 31 issues in the 1950s and was published by Dell Comics.
Tonto has been depicted as an articulate and proud warrior who the Ranger treats as an equal partner in later representations, which began in the 1980s. Tonto is even depicted to be a very clever, outspoken, and sarcastic character in the Topps Comics four-issue miniseries The Lone Ranger and Tonto, eager to fight the Lone Ranger during a heated disagreement and commenting on his earlier pop-culture depictions with the words, “Of course, Kemosabe.
Another issue started when Jhonny Depp, a non-Native American cast for the role of Tonto in the sequel of The Lone Ranger in 2012.
There was a lot of criticism and support for Jhonny Depp, most of the people think that Tonto is not the real depiction of Red Indians and a fictional character that can be played by anyone.
Tonto is a fictional character, and there are lots of white actors and actresses who play fictional characters, so it shouldn’t matter, right? We watched Natalie Portman in the Black Swan as an evil-crazy-swan-human, and we don’t presume that her character, or that of all white people, is typical of her or all white people in real life. But that, my friend, is white privilege. Every day, we see millions of images of white individuals in a variety of roles. White actors are portrayed as “actual” people, “dream” figures, and everything in between by us. The vast majority of Americans, on the other hand, only see conventional depictions of Native people. When you go to the supermarket, you’ll notice a lot of joyful white kids on cereal boxes, in contrast to the sole easily recognizable Native image–the Land o’ Lakes butter girl. In advertising, we see a lot of non-Native people going about their daily lives, and then we get ads like these that feature Native people. In addition, there are few (if any) Native people in today’s mainstream television shows. And this is reflected even more clearly in Hollywood. The Twilight series was the last large film to contain Native characters, and we were represented as wolves. Consider every recent major studio picture in which a Native character or actor appeared. All of the ones that come to me were set in a historical setting, were fantasy films, or were loaded with inappropriate stereotypes. It’s not even amusing how few accurate, modern, nuanced depictions of Native people exist.
Non-Indian actors have frequently played Indian characters in Hollywood films, reducing Indian characters to villains or supporting roles. Hollywood has created a new type of “white man’s Indian,” the Indian sidekick, in the aftermath of centuries of misperceptions and misrepresentations. Would the classic American hero be complete without his Indian sidekick?
An online petition was recently established to protest the casting of Rooney Mara, a non-Native American actress, in the part of an Indian character in an upcoming rendition of Peter Pan.
“With so few movie heroes of color in the United States, non-white youngsters receive a totally different message from Hollywood, one that too often relegates them to sidekicks, villains, or background players,” according to an article justifying the petition. The problem, like the clamor, isn’t new. Much research has revealed why non-Indian actors are frequently cast as Indian characters in Hollywood films. This trend, which Ted Jojola calls “absurd,” has enraged Indian activists, who forced Hollywood to address such issues in 1973, when Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar for The Godfather and instead sent Apache actress Sacheen Little Feather onstage to speak out against “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.”
This campaign aims to address two issues: Indian characters are typically cast as sidekicks, antagonists, or background characters and Indian performers are rarely portrayed as heroes. Indians are only extras or fakes in Westerns when their presence should be assumed for apparent historical reasons. Jane Tompkins summarizes Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans as “props, pieces of local color, textural effects” in a comprehensive analysis of the genre. They didn’t exist as persons. They were frequently cast as villains, a particularly hazardous species of local fauna.
In general, Hollywood’s portrayal of American ethnic communities has been infamously poor, both in terms of characters and actors. “All minorities, ethnicities, and races have been capriciously invented, stereotyped, and misrepresented by Hollywood,” says Ralph and Natasha Friar.
This is not an end, there are several example of such discrimination in Hollywood film industry but there is still a long journey to cover to reserve cultural identification.