Native Americans and Their Intrinsic Relationship with Western Films

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Dances With Wolves, directed by Kevin Costner, and The Searchers, directed by John Ford, looks into the fabric of this country's past. The media has created a false image of the relationship between Native Americans and White men to suppress the cruel and unfortunate reality. Both directors wanted to contradict these stereotypes, but due to the time period the films were created, only one film was successful. Unlike The Searchers, Dancing With Wolves presents a truly realistic representation of Native Americans.
Both Dances With Wolves and The Searchers protagonists, Dunbar and Ethan, embark on a journey and evolve in different ways. The purpose of Dunbar’s journey is to find who he is. For Ethan, it is to rescue his nieces who he feels
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In this depiction, the Native Americans lure the men away from their homes, savagely kill their families, and commit wrong. It is the white men who have to painstakingly hunt down the Indians to reinstate justice, righting the wrongs that have been done. Native Americans are depicted as a demonizing form of "the other," a force to which fear and repression can be the only responses. Costner's work almost inverts this.
Both films critique White racism and violence. Dunbar is guilty of the Whites and realizes that they are involved in a system where the Native culture, habitats, and populations are being destroyed. To purge his overwhelming sense of guilt, he switches sides and fights against his old comrades. White society is the demon while the Native Americans are apotheosized. In The Searchers, Ford presented Ethan not as the hero but almost as a subtle villain, a racist that embarks on a fixated and zealous mission that is fuelled by his hatred of Native Americans. Ford uses Ethan to depict the wrong actions of Whites.
Kevin Costner and John Ford both use the Natives language in their films. The big difference is the effort of the directors. Costner uses sub-titles and actual Native language unlike Ford. Ford does not use the proper language for the Comanche. In beginning of Dances With Wolves, there is not as much dialogue between Dunbar and Natives, but the body language is significant along with other forms of symbolic communication used to make the story

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