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Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom

Apocalypto Pirates of the Caribbean In recent years, America's media mavens have slightly curtailed their stereotyping of American Indians. Advocates of historical accuracy (i.e., "political correctness") have made them realize American Indians were real people with hopes and dreams, cultures and languages. It's no longer fashionable to stereotype them outright as savages and killers.

So the creators and producers of Native-themed stories have taken to stereotyping the Indians of Mesoamerica and Latin America instead. This lets them indulge in their wildest fantasies about headhunting, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. Just as important, there are few if any advocates for these Indians to protest their unfair treatment in the media. Creators can literally get away with murder in their Native fiction.

Zagar and Steve Fun Pic

Mesoamerican and Latin American Indians have come to rival Eskimos as the ultimate aborigines—the most primitive, subhuman, and bestial Natives. If you want a bloodcurdling Indian monster to terrorize your protagonists, use an Aztec or Maya (same thing to most people, so it doesn't matter which) or an Amazon Indian. Captives boiled in oil! Hearts ripped from bodies! Blood and guts and savagery!

And if they're not evil, creators can still put them in a fantasyland that never was. Lost kingdoms! Crumbling ruins! Cities of gold! Often built by Atlanteans or other mystical forces, because Indians couldn't possibly have managed these accomplishments themselves.

Here are some examples of this trend:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones movies
No primitive Indians here
Amazon towns disprove stereotypes
Indiana Jones iconography
Indiana Jones, tomb raider
The rest of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Source for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones at a glance
How Indians built monuments
Primitive culture in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Savages in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indian gods = space aliens
Indiana Jones, like Apocalypto
Worshiping crystal skulls
Indiana Jones tribe found?
Indiana Jones ripoff
Jingoism in Indiana Jones
Lore of the crystal skulls
Mystery of the crystal skulls
Preview of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Other movies
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Aztec animals in Chihuahua
Chihuahua movie is stereotypical
Mini-review of Aztec Rex
Aztec religion = dinosaur worship
Racist Chihuahua trailer
The Ruins is a wreck
Apocalypto now
Review of The X-Files: Ruins
Cannibals of the Caribbean
Spear's point is obvious
Indigenous Atlantis
The amazing Amazon boy
El Dorado ignores genocide of Natives

TV shows
The Mysterious Cities of Gold
Review of The Emperor's New School
Cranky about Kronk
Star Trek Voyager:  Chakotay

TV commercials
Dancing Mesoamericans ask if whites are kings in Kahlua ad
Capitol One ad shows primitive natives about to boil tourists
Zagar the horrible

Other entertainment media
Aztecs in AIR comic
The Night of the Mayas

Other examples of stereotyping
Were the Aztecs murdering "animals"?
Indians as cannibals

Other sources
Video games featuring Indians
The best Indian books

Related links
Uncivilized Indians
Warlike Indian cultures
Scalping, torture, and mutilation by Indians
Savage Indians

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2008 by Robert Schmidt.

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