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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Although some Indians still eat buffalo, pemmican, and maize— along with pizza, truffles, and sushi—these items aren't part of most Native diets today. The cartoon suggests Indians are a people of the past who, if they're still alive, haven't changed with the times.

Imagine the text said:

"What's with this menu? Wild boar and grog?"

"I told you we were going to an English restaurant."

It wouldn't quite make sense. You'd have to stop and think, "Oh. I guess English people ate and drank these things long ago. I guess that's supposed to be a typical English meal. Ha ha.

It "works" only if you buy the premise: that Indians still eat this limited, "primitive" palette of food. And that's stereotypical.

Besides what it implies about Indians, the list of consumable items is itself stereotypical. Native people ate a huge variety of food besides buffalo, pemmican (dried buffalo meat), and maize (corn). They probably ate a greater variety than we eat today. The possibilities ranged from whale to wild turkey, potatoes to popcorn, cactus to catfish, moose to maple syrup.

Imagine the Aztecs, the Inuit, or the Wampanoags who greeted the Pilgrims eating buffalo and you'll see how stereotypical this notion is.

Related links
The "vanishing breed"

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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