Skip to main content

Your Friday 'WTF?': That's Not Funny at All

Native Americans are referred to as 'injuns' and 'savages' in this 1980 comic strip from a London, England-based newspaper.

Representations of Native Americans in news media have evolved very little since the first newspaper was published in the American colonies in Boston, Massachusetts on September 25, 1690. More than 300 years later, Native Americans continue to be openly mocked with stereotypical caricatures, including dehumanizing sports mascots and dictionary-defined racial epithets.

RELATED: Ed Secretary Arne Duncan Calls for Washington Football Team to Change Name

While scanning a microfilm database at Columbia University in New York City, I came across the following racially offensive comic strip, illustrated by cartoonist Fred Basset, and printed by London, England-based newspaper Daily Mail. It portrays a pair unscrupulous "injuns" ... "savages on the warpath!" in stereotypical attire charging after a dog whose demise is stymied by the "cavalry," which is, in this case, a black dog with protruding fangs:

Map: CNN

Scroll to Continue

Read More

The search area for the escaped inmates is near Akwesasne.

What blows the mind (a relatively small explosion, of course, since Native Americans are hardly surprised by this type of racism) is that this comic was not published in, say, 1886, generally considered the height of anti-Indian sentiment, but in 1980, when people, even then, lauded themselves as versed on matters of racial equality and discrimination.

To learn more about poor representations of Native Americans in contemporary media, read a new study by Professor Stephanie A. Fryberg of the University of Washington (author of "Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots") et al. titled, "Frozen in Time" on how 21st century media continues to perpetuate the stereotyping of Native Americans.

Simon Moya-Smith

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is ICTMN's Culture Editor. Follow him @simonmoyasmith.