FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (Parlay Game) – John Little can hardly spend a week without recalling that he is often perceived, along with other Native Americans, as remnants of the past: the Indian girl on the pot of butter in The grocery store, the children's tipis sold at popular retailers and sports fans with their faces painted in tomahawk chops during games.
But he does not hear a public outcry over these images deemed offensive by many Amerindians, even though the country spent most of the year attacking blackface and racist images as a result of the revelation of a racist photo of Virginia page of the directory of the governor's colleges. Since then, new examples have surfaced regularly, most recently a television host who painted her face brown in a parody of Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio, an Oscar nominee.
"These are everyday realities for aboriginals," said Little, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Redface may attract less attention because of the well-grounded misconceptions and feelings of entitlement to Native American culture and land, scholars say. Native Americans are also a relatively small group, representing less than 2% of the American population. In comparison, blacks account for about 13%.
To convince the masses that to stereotype Native Americans as wild, ignorant or without humor is to isolate is a slow movement, say specialists, and they are not sure they will gain popularity.
Throughout America's history, people have donned redface, fringes and feathers, and expressed themselves in torn English when they play or represent Native Americans in theater, film and in life. daily. In one of the earliest examples, settlers disguised as Mohawk Indians threw tea in Boston Harbor in 1773 to protest against the British regime.
The first settlers wanted to take what they considered to be the best values of Native Americans while seizing land and destroying tribal communities, experts say.
Part of this was a desire to be perceived as indigenous to the new land. Secret societies based on Amerindian symbols, customs and terminology have been formed and still exist, such as the Improved Order of the Red Men and the Order of the Scout Arrow.
In the early 1900s, waves of Jewish immigrants were seeking to align with Native Americans, whom they considered as displaced people, dressing and singing songs about 39 to be Native Americans while belittling them for them to be accepted socially, said Peter Antelyes, associate professor at English and Jewish Studies at Vassar College.
Philip J. Deloria, a professor of history at Harvard University and author of "Playing Indian," said that Native Americans were also hypersexualized and described as cannibals. A famous political cartoon shows European nations raising the skirt of a Native American to reveal the new territory, suggesting that they were both open to men's desires, he said.
The last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, reinforced these representations and stereotypes, as shown by Buffalo Bill's shows in Wild West, according to Deloria.
Some actors playing later Amerindians have made their real image. The Italian-American actor Iron Eyes Cody is well known in the Indian country for a 1971 environmental advertisement in which he drops a tear after paddling in a littered river of garbage. He wore a fringed deer skin and a feather in his long braided hair.
Most people think that these images, based largely on nineteenth-century Plains Indians, are what Native Americans were and still are, Deloria said. And some believe that the natives have disappeared.
"There is a long, long and complicated history to that which is really deep in American culture," Deloria said. "It's as deep as blackface minstrel and slavery. It's just outside, but we've sort of forgotten it.
Nowhere else is redface more visible than at sporting events featuring teams of Native American mascots such as the Redskins, Braves and the Indians, and around Halloween.
In the documentary "More than a word" on the Washington Redskins, fans say that the team's name honors the Native Americans. Today's stadiums are dotted with fans who paint their faces, interpret their version of a Native American dance or war cry and wear toy caps or replica series.
This is insulting to many Native Americans, because headdresses were traditionally a symbol of honor and respect, deserved by tribal leaders and warriors. Veterans and modern-day leaders are sometimes gifted at ceremonies and honored with the right to wear them.
"It's easy to make the comparison: if it was blackface, it would not be tolerable," said Little, who co-directed the documentary. "But it also discredits her because you're comparing problems in two separate races and two different people."
Redface for many Native Americans is not limited to painting. It also includes clothing and speech.
Celebrities donned fake headdresses and feathers and held cowboy and Indian celebrations with little repercussion, beyond being asked to apologize. Non-Aboriginal actors describe Native Americans in movies more often than Native Americans. And some politicians routinely question the tribes' ability to control their own lands.
"It's hard for me to say that people do not know it's wrong," said Kyle Mays, assistant professor of African American and Indian Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, Black and Saginaw Anishinaabe. "They may not know aboriginals (but), but they know it's wrong and it's okay to do it because it does not matter."
Nicholet Deschine Parkhurst, who is Lakota and Navajo, is trying to reprimand companies that misappropriate Native American culture and to enhance Aboriginal peoples in a more contemporary way.
"When you are perceived in this way, as it was only in the past, as an" ice-cold "Indian in museums … it's harder for the leaders of our communities to be heard, and it's easier for people to ignore us, she said.