"Indian pictures" : film portrayals of Native Americans in the silent era

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Soeder, Janna
Seefeldt, Douglas, 1964-
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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This digital history project, "Indian Pictures": Film Portrayals of Native Americans in the Silent Era (http://jannasoeder.wix.com/silent-natives), presents a study of six Indianthemed silent-era movies and provides an overview over the time on screen of different Indian characters and stereotypes. The movies are White Fawn's Devotion (1910), The Squaw's Love (1911), The Invaders (1912), The Last of the Mohicans (1920), The Paleface (1922), and The Vanishing American (1925). The cinemetric analysis was accomplished with online tools such as the CineMetric Frame Accurate Measurement Tool, Voyant, and Google Ngram Viewer. The data and findings are presented using the wix.com web design platform. The project suggests that portrayals of Native Americans during the silent era were diverse and dominated by positive Indian images and that they differ in this in comparison to later images such as seen in Westerns. The most indicative evidence is that Indian women, Indian children, and Indian non-fighting related action gets any time on screen at all. Furthermore, even though the dichotomic image of the noble and the ignoble savage is present and visible in the discussed films, the time on screen of 'good' Indians by far outweighs the time of screen of 'bad' Indians.