Representations of Native Americans in U.S. culture? A case of omissions and commissions

Laurel R. Davis-Delano*, Jennifer J. Folsom, Virginia McLaurin, Arianne E. Eason, Stephanie A. Fryberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In settler colonial societies, colonizers often omit contemporary Indigenous Peoples from representations, while controlling signifiers of indigeneity to legitimate their interests (e.g., stereotypes). Both omissions and commissions, including stereotyping, are central to oppression experienced by contemporary Native Americans. We employ a sample of over 5,500 non-Native survey participants to examine the extent of omissions and commissions in recalled representations of films and television shows with Native American characters and famous living and deceased Native Americans. Then, we analyze the content of the most commonly recalled representations. We find that many participants are unable to recall representations of Native Americans, especially contemporary representations. The most commonly experienced representations involve stereotyping, as well as little content that is not stereotypical. We discuss the implications of our findings, and situate them in the context of settler colonialism in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Science Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • American indians
  • colonialism
  • mass media
  • popular culture
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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