For the majority of cinema’s history, Native Americans have had stories told about them, their cultures, and their histories. When Thomas Edison debuted the kinetoscope in 1894, some of the earliest moving images were of Native Americans performing ceremonial dances. Since then, Native Americans have remained primarily the objects of cinematic gaze. Native Americans have stood in as props or background characters, meant to be part of the scenery or as plot devices that move along the (usually White) main character’s narrative.

As with most media, film is a two-way exchange, where society and cultural climates influence film and film influences society and culture. The marginalized social status of indigenous peoples in American society contributes to their invisibility and silence in media. Because media are often ...

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