Shoot the Indian

Shoot the Indian: Media, Misperception and Native Truth
ed. by Kara Briggs, Ronald D. Smith and Jose Barreiro [American Indian Policy and Media Initiative]

As the subtitle suggests, the essays in Shoot the Indian are broadly concerned with disempowering representations and perceptions of Native American communities and issues in the media. The book covers a wide range of situations involving flawed media representation of Native issues; in most of these, the real issue is not "representation," but a more concrete political or economic struggle. For example, one chapter examines 2007 media criticism of the Cherokee Nation's controversial vote to exclude many descendants of black Freemen from Cherokee citizenship. Some media viewed the dispute through a simplistic civil rights frame which, author Smith argues, failed to take into account the complexities involving sovereignty, distinctions between tribal and racial belonging, and how such definitions have been written through a history of colonialism. Other essays look at how past media/historical portrayals of Native Americans continue to inform present-day stereotypes, how those stereotypes influence public policy debates over land use, gaming, and white journalists' interactions with Native people. What the book lacks in focus and consistency of method, it makes up for in depth and a rich sense of a history too often overlooked in news and other media. -jl

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey