Real Injun

The history of the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood films.

Arts, Culture, & Sports, Identity & Diversity

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About the Film

Reel Injun takes viewers through a chronological treatment of First Nations peoples in film and television. This feature length documentary references several well known films and features interviews with Native filmmakers, critics, and community leaders including Chris Eyre, a prolific director and John Trudell, a leader in the American Indian Movement (AIM). Through encounters with community leaders and critics, the film takes viewers on an imaginative journey through the shifting stereotypes of Native Americans in Hollywood.

Please also see Neil Discovers the Moon

Film In Context

Native Americans in Hollywood Film

Since the era of silent filmmaking in the early 1900s, First Nations peoples have been used largely as props, the enemy, and comic relief in Hollywood films. The primary idea was that Indians were in the way of “progress” and “civilization” being achieved by colonial populations who sought to own and control all land inside the borders of what we now refer to as the United States. This hostility toward the first people to occupy these lands can be clearly seen through the stereotypes produced by Hollywood which in turn produce an almost singular idea of who or what Native Americans are. These representations shift over time, shaping audience’s perceptions of the many Native histories and communities that shape the country called America.

Historical perspective:

Stereotypes and vocabulary often associated with Native Americans: