Racial Stereotypes Of The 19th Century

2164 WordsMay 11, 20169 Pages
Today, its impossible to talk about racial stereotypes as historical because the consequences of such labeling and the emotions that they provoke are very real today. Whether we use words like construct, image, or stereotype, we are referring to the same concept: ideas about a certain group that are used to define and describe members within that group. Some ideas embed themselves as central, and the rule of thumb is that these concepts are unfailingly self-serving, they push the interests of whatever group influences them, and they form the bases upon which that group behaves. It is no secret that the stereotype of the Native American was significant and historically important. It framed the attitudes of people in the 19th century who influenced and formed Indian policy. Indian policy, whether it was removal of tribes to the West during the 1830s, pushing Indians to reservations starting in the 1850s, or assimilation and allotment of treaty lands in the 1880s, cannot be discerned without an understanding of the ideas behind it. Literature and images give us insight into the 19th century presumptions of Native Americans. Historically, we have been introduced to two different Indians, the noble and ignoble savages. The Indian man was either a respectable, fierce less brave or blood thirsty warrior. The sharp contrast between the noble and ignoble savage blurs what they both share, savagery. Savagery referred to a condition of social development below “civilization” and in
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