Native American Stereotypes in a Disney Movie.
In this paper, the animated Disney movie Pocahontas will be discussed. The film was directed by Eric Goldberg and Mike Gabriel, and released in 1995. We will particularly examine how Disney portrays the Native Americans in the movie and whether stereotypes are used. We will start by thoroughly discussing the history of Pocahontas, as it is told in history books and biographies. The second part of the paper will deal with the images the early settlers developed of the inhabitants of the New World and how these images have evolved throughout the centuries. Particular attention will be given to the images of Native American women. The third part will deal with the actual movie, discussing the various stereotypes that can be found and relating these to the previous part. Finally, a conclusion will be provided. .
2. The Real Story of Pocahontas.
As with every movie - and even more so in animated Disney productions - the story told in the movie is not necessarily true to the historical facts. When watching Disney's Pocahontas, one can immediately see that the producers have adapted the history of Pocahontas to the likes of the - American - audience. For the purpose of this paper, the storyline of Pocahontas needs to be compared to the actual facts of the Native American girl's life and her encounter with white society. Then it will become apparent in which way Disney changed the story and how that affects the image of the Indian portrayed in the film.
Research reveals that there are numerous works on the life of Pocahontas. However, those works do not always agree on the facts. This is understandable, since the story dates back to the beginning of the seventeenth century, a time when no written records were kept of events or people's lives, certainly not in the Native American culture. Few recorded details of the life of Pocahontas exist today, and the truth of those that do exist is open to question.