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11/19/2017

Introduction

The Arapaho Indians are a Native American tribe
that historically lives on the Wyoming and Colorado plains. The Arapaho are
allies of the Cheyenne, and had a loose alliance with the Dakota and Lakota
(Anderson 229). The southern Arapaho reside in Oklahoma and are recognized
federally as Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The Northern Arapaho live in the
Eastern Shoshone in Wyoming (Anderson 234). They are recognized federally as
The Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation.

The Arapaho lived in Minnesota originally. They
were agricultural people who resided in permanent villages in the east
woodlands. The European expansion forced them to migrate westwards to the
plains of Wyoming and Kansas (Anderson 245). This forced them to change their
lifestyle to become nomadic people who followed the great buffalo herds for
livelihood. The tribe was a warlike people who had eight secret societies of
warriors who were graded using age. Every secret society had its own medicine
bundles used in the Smudging Rituals. The tribe lived in a Tepee, which was a
tent-like home. This Tepee suited their nomadic life, as they were easy to
erect and dismantle. The Arapaho are very spiritual people and call their God
Be He Teiht.  The tribe speaks the
Algonquian language, which has five dialects.

Most of Native Indians history is conveyed
through the media. Most of the Americans learn about Native Indians more in the
media than schools and museum. The Native Indian history plays a very important
role in the American history. The American Indians stories have been told
through different media channels but the idea and image depicted in the media
is a white construction (Ramasubramanian 249). The stereotype has nothing to do
with how Native Americans represent or perceive themselves. Even though the
media has further justified racism and mistreatment toward American Indians,
Plains Indians, including the Northern Arapaho tribe, face injustices that
still affect how they are seen in American culture and society.

Northern Arapaho Culture

The Northern Arapaho tribe speaks the Arapaho
language (Anderson 43). The language is an Algonquian language mostly spoken in
Wyoming. It is polysynthetic language containing long and complex verbs and a
relatively free word order. The Northern Arapaho speak Gros Ventre dialect. The
dialect is slightly different from the dialect spoken by Southern Arapaho, but
the languages are mutually comprehensible between the two tribes (Anderson 49).

The elderly mostly speaks the language although the tribe is teaching the
younger generations to revitalize the language.

The Northern Arapaho land tenure forms one of
integral tradition. The tribe and an individual own the land, family or a band
cannot lay any claim to land (Leavitt et al. 39). The whole tribe share and
mutually defend their territory. The tribe also has a unique division of labor.

The unmarried women remain close to the household and help their mothers with
domestic work. The unmarried men are assigned activities such as hunting and
horse care. The married women are tasked with household chores such as cooking.

The married men care for horses, hunt, maintain camp security and carry out
religious functions. The division of labor is partially defined by age grade
membership (Anderson 59). The tribe kinship is bilateral where extended family
remains the tribe social life core. The tribe kinship classifies all the
mother’s sisters as mother and all the father’s brothers as the father. The
Northern Arapaho has two types of marriages (Ramasubramanian 253). The most
common are the arranged one where senior relatives arranged the marriage of the
prospective spouses.  The second type
involves elopement where a couple moves in together in secret. Marriage is
strictly prohibited between relatives.

Challenges Faced by Northern Arapaho Tribe

One of the major challenges facing the Northern
Arapaho tribe is identity and assimilation. 
Identity and assimilation have long been a very critical challenge and
poses a serious question today. The tribe members face the dilemma when
deciding whether to live traditionally and identify with their tribe culture or
to move to the cities and adopt the modern life (Bird 61). They also cannot
readily define how much of the dominant American culture to accept in their
lives. When a member of the tribe move to cities, they fear other Americans
will not accept them and the tribe will no longer consider them a real tribal
person. The Northern Arapaho tribe also faces the challenges of living with the
typical Indian stereotypes by the American society (Anderson 78).

The Native Americans face relative media
invisibility. The media portrays them generally as historical figures when they
represent the Native Americans. Most of the media show them as people from the
eighteenth century who still wears buckskin, live in tepees and ride horses
(Leavitt et al. 52). This is evident mainly in entertainment media. When the
media portray Native Americans as modern people, they associate them with
poverty, addiction, and illiteracy. The media also portrays the Native
Americans as different types of American Indians. The narrow representation
does not in any way reflect the diversity of the tribes’ cultures. The Native
Americans are the most underrepresented group of people in the media where the
percentage of popular media characters is almost zero (Bird 64). This
underrepresentation is further heightened by the fact that the average citizen
has nearly no direct interaction with the Native Americans.

Media Representation

The cultivation theory suggests that media
shape the concepts of the social reality (Meadows 36).  The media influences people although the
effects are gradual and indirect. However, these effects are significant and
cumulative. The media is responsible for cultivating attitudes and values
present in a particular culture. The media also propagate these attitudes and
values. The media portrayal of the Northern Arapaho tribe as illiterate and
poor people has led to many Americans to believe this is true. Since most
Americans do not have a direct contact with the Northern Arapaho tribe, they
tend to believe whatever the media tells them about the tribe (Bird 65). An
average American will most likely believe what they see on television and will
not take their time to research if the information is biased. As long as the
media portrays the Northern Arapaho tribe negatively, most people will believe
them since the media is their primary source of information about the tribe.

The uses of tribal mascots by universities and
in sports tend to do more harm than good to the Native Americans (Anderson 94).

Most people tend to believe the mascots are promoting the natives culture but
in reality, they pose a substantial challenge to natives’ culture especially
the youth. The mascots are a derogatory stereotype to the natives. Instead of
honoring the Native Tribes, the mascots have very serious social and
psychological effects on the Native youth. There has been a significant
advocacy to remove Indian references in sports although a significant number
remains (Meadows 36). This misrepresentation has caused significant damage to
the Native Indians. The stereotyping has caused significant damage to the Native
Americans culture.

Damage to the Media Misrepresentation

The missing white woman syndrome is the
situation in which the media tends to focus on the white people more than the
other races (Anderson 250). This poses a significant damage to the Native Americans
since they get fewer media coverage. Any crimes committed against the natives
will not receive media coverage. This means any injustices committed against
the natives will not receive much attention from the public. This media bias
has a negative effect on the natives since the media is a powerful tool to
highlight injustices in the society (Anderson 98).

The media misrepresentation has created a lot
of prejudice against the Northern Arapaho culture. Most of the Americans
believe their culture is far more superior to the tribe culture (Leavitt et al.

46). This is not the reality of the tribe culture has many important values
which the American culture does not possess. A good example of these values is
the strong family ties. The tribe culture has very strong family ties regarding
extended families. Strong family ties are an important feature, which makes up
a good society (Bird 75).  The media
portray of natives culture as backward is incorrect, and both native and modern
American culture have their good aspects.

Conclusion

In
conclusion, considering the discussions in this paper, one fact that is very
clear is that the media is a potent tool within a country because it plays a
role in influencing people’s views and perceptions. It is apparent that the
media has a role in stereotyping the Arapaho Indians and this has a great
impact on the perception that others have about them. To gain recognition
through the media, the natives should step out and become firm about their
culture. They should ensure that they clear all the stereotypes that exist as a
result of the media. Moreover, natives should ensure that they push for equal
representation through the media.

 

Work Cited

Anderson, Jeffrey D. “The history of time
in the Northern Arapaho Tribe.” Ethnohistory 58.2     (2011): 229-261.

Anderson, Jeffrey. “Ethnolinguistic
dimensions of Northern Arapaho language    
shift.” Anthropological Linguistics (2015): 43-108.

Bird, S. Elizabeth. “Gendered construction
of the American Indian in popular media.” Journal of     Communication 49.3 (2016): 61-83.

Leavitt, Peter A., et al. “”Frozen in
Time”: The Impact of Native American Media    
Representations on Identity and Self?Understanding.”
Journal of Social Issues 71.1     (2015):
39-53.

Meadows, Michael. “Journalism and
indigenous public spheres.” Pacific Journalism Review 11.1     (2013): 36.

Ramasubramanian, Srividya. “Media-based
strategies to reduce racial stereotypes activated by     news stories.” Journalism & Mass
Communication Quarterly 84.2 (2017): 249-264.

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