Perpetuating Colonization Through the Gaze of United States Media
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Mass media play a significant role in maintaining unequal systems of power and perpetuating inequality and injustice. Using a Media Studies and Indigenous Epistemological framework, this thesis posits that news media deploy stereotypes of Native Americans in order to serve the primary goal of the U.S. government in relation to Indigenous peoples in the United States: the gradual elimination of Indian cultures through gendered violence, destruction of natural environments and exploitation of natural resources, and severely limiting indigenous sovereignty. My research design allows me to examine the construction of race and gender as processes of social interaction and power relations, and to analyze the media's role in colonization. It also allows me to illustrate some of the legacies of settler colonialism through telling the stories of my family. In this thesis, I analyze stereotypical representations of Native Americans in media in relation to the displacement of DinÃ© people from their ancestral land in the period surrounding the Long Walk of 1863-1864, and the internment of DinÃ© people at the Bosque Redondo until 1868. I employ a partially autoethnographic approach to highlight not only the generational impacts of settler colonialism, but also the impact on individuals. I also interviewed family members, searched for official documentation of deceased family members, searched church records, and have attempted to create a family archive with the data produced by these methods. This approach allows me to contrast dominant cultural narratives, many of which are constructed in the media, with the oral histories passed along through my family and the experiences of still-living family members in order to illuminate settler colonialism as a pervasive, ongoing process that impacts communities, families, and individuals in vastly different ways.