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9, 2014 By Braudie Blais-Billie There are many misconceptions when it comes to modern American Indians and the way we identify ourselves in society.
As a Seminole Indian woman, I’ve had my share of “rain dance” jokes and uncomfortable conversations. There’s poverty porn, media that sensationalizes marginalized communities with exploitative or voyeuristic motives. But Native America is far more complex than what mainstream media and education depict.
These stereotypes stem from inaccurate portrayals in popular culture that were never properly challenged. I can go on for pages about my tribe alone and its colorful history.
Though I’m in no position to speak on behalf of all indigenous community, here are a few basics I think everyone should know. We are so marginalized that references to shaman, “Redskins,” and dream catchers are all that certain people think of when they hear “Native American.” We’re represented as artifacts in a museum, a few chapters in a history book. I’ve had experiences with people who didn’t even know American Indians were still alive! We drive cars, tweet about Game of Thrones, listen to Beyoncé.
Being type casted or dismissed is a problem American Indians face daily. Though some of us may chose to stay in touch with our traditions, Native Americans aren’t “mystical” or “savage” people from the past.
We go to college, write books, become doctors, run businesses.