Changing Native American Stereotypes in the Film, Dances with Wolves

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Changing Native American Stereotypes in the Film, Dances with Wolves

The film Dances with Wolves, that was written by Michael Blake and directed by Kevin Costner, helps to shift our perspective of Native Americans from one of stereotypical distaste, to one of support and respect. According to an anonymous critic on "This is one of the few westerns that devotes its time to looking at the plight of the American Indians (particularly the Sioux), who were thought by some as even more subhuman than blacks during the 1800's (and even during parts of the 1900's)." It has always been thought that Native Americans of old were savage, non-feeling, unemotional, cold-blooded killers. It is difficult for people to see them as anything else. I have come to the understanding that they are much more that. They are kind, feeling, understanding, loving, loyal, helpful, good people just like us. There is no difference between them and us. The film helps us to think of them as real people that can relate and understand us.

According to, "the Sioux Indians were the largest and most important Indian tribe north of Mexico. There are very prominent throughout the United States, only surpassed in size by the Chippawa."

Throughout this movie you see portrayed reluctance by all parties. John Dunbar, who is played by Kevin Costner, is reluctant to meet the Sioux for fear of getting killed. He believes in the view that all Indians are bad and they are going to kill him. His view is drastically changed as the movie goes along. You notice this particularly when he goes hunting for buffalo with the Indians. He sees the whole tribe getting excited about the prospect of food for the winter. And then when the buff...

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...his is just like the Indians. They were just as scared of us as we were of them. We went around killing the people too, but we just called ourselves an army, so then it was ok for us and not ok for them. What is the difference? We were killing Indians to protect ourselves from them, and they were killing us to protect their families from us. It just depends on whose perspective you view this from. The key is to just keep an open mind and remember that they are people just like us who live lives just a little different than us.

Works Cited

Costner, Kevin, dir. Dances with Wolves. Perf. Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, and Rodney A. Grant. 1990. Videocassette. Orion, 1991.

"Dances With Wolves." Online. HBS Entertainment, Inc. 1998

Mooney, James. "Sioux Indians." Online. Robert Appleton Company. 1999.

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