The Indian in My Cupboard: The Objectification of American Indians

  • Amy Scott-Williams (Iowa State University)


This session examines the significance of stereotypical images of Native Americans that are widely circulated through commercial use. While much attention has been given to images of Indians used as mascots, it is essential that we gain a deeper understanding of how everyday stereotypes are also circulated via objects. The countless images of Indians that are embossed on mugs or printed on blankets, puzzles, butter packaging, and other consumables must be understood in terms of how these objects are consumed. Examine possible sources of these images, such as the photographs of Edward Curtis, which seem to have traveled through time with their accrued marketability. These images have not only remained for a hundred years or more, they have spawned countless images beyond their original format and intent. These objects are widely circulated through gift shops, shopping malls, and the Internet. Do seemingly mundane objects play an active role in creating and maintaining stereotypes due to the manner in which they are embedded in everyday commercial culture? We will reflect on how these objectifications continuously affect Native people in the United States and at Iowa State University



Published on
05 Mar 2009
Peer Reviewed