Title

A Culture, Not a Costume: Perceptions of Native Communities in the Media

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

“The angry Indian, the pitiful Indian, Indians as the victims... It’s hard to overcome,” said Bill Yellow Robe, an award-winning playwright and Assiniboine from Northeast Montana. These stereotypes of Native Americans are perpetuated by mainstream media. This research audio story explores the lives of those touched by inaccurate representation in the media. Perspectives come from frustrated Native Americans like Bill Yellow Robe, Native journalists devoted to portraying an accurate picture of Native communities, and student journalists learning how to bridge this cultural gap. This stereotyping stems from mainstream media’s coverage of reservations. The news often only focuses on tragedies that occur, painting an unrepresentative picture of Native communities. Stories of success and overcoming hardship do not often find their way into off-reservation newspapers. Native media outlets are vastly different from their mainstream counterparts because of their presentation of Native voices and perspectives largely absent from mainstream media newsrooms. There are efforts to close the gap between Natives and non-Natives in journalism. These efforts include a class at the University of Montana dedicated to covering Native News issues, teaching young journalists to report on reservations respectfully and accurately. On a national scale, larger media outlets are beginning to see the need for diversity in their newsrooms, and searching for ways to collaborate with Native media outlets. This story brings light to Native American communities in the media by offering a series of interviews with Native American journalists and non-Native newspaper editors around Montana, investigations into past news articles dealing with Native issues, and explores nationwide initiatives to bring Native and non-Natives together to reach a greater cultural understanding. But there’s still a long way to go to overcome this seemingly subtle form of racism.

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Apr 12th, 10:40 AM Apr 12th, 11:00 AM

A Culture, Not a Costume: Perceptions of Native Communities in the Media

UC 327

“The angry Indian, the pitiful Indian, Indians as the victims... It’s hard to overcome,” said Bill Yellow Robe, an award-winning playwright and Assiniboine from Northeast Montana. These stereotypes of Native Americans are perpetuated by mainstream media. This research audio story explores the lives of those touched by inaccurate representation in the media. Perspectives come from frustrated Native Americans like Bill Yellow Robe, Native journalists devoted to portraying an accurate picture of Native communities, and student journalists learning how to bridge this cultural gap. This stereotyping stems from mainstream media’s coverage of reservations. The news often only focuses on tragedies that occur, painting an unrepresentative picture of Native communities. Stories of success and overcoming hardship do not often find their way into off-reservation newspapers. Native media outlets are vastly different from their mainstream counterparts because of their presentation of Native voices and perspectives largely absent from mainstream media newsrooms. There are efforts to close the gap between Natives and non-Natives in journalism. These efforts include a class at the University of Montana dedicated to covering Native News issues, teaching young journalists to report on reservations respectfully and accurately. On a national scale, larger media outlets are beginning to see the need for diversity in their newsrooms, and searching for ways to collaborate with Native media outlets. This story brings light to Native American communities in the media by offering a series of interviews with Native American journalists and non-Native newspaper editors around Montana, investigations into past news articles dealing with Native issues, and explores nationwide initiatives to bring Native and non-Natives together to reach a greater cultural understanding. But there’s still a long way to go to overcome this seemingly subtle form of racism.