Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Alison McKee


Cinema, Film, Indian Princess, Native Americans, Racism, Screaming Savages

Subject Areas

Film studies


Native Americans have been depicted in the movies since the birth of the medium. In this thesis, the depiction of Native Americans in seven exemplary films is analyzed. The films chosen illustrate the evolution of Native American depiction from the silent era through the classic studio era of the 1930s and 1940s, the post WWII era, and the 1960s Civil Rights period to 1970 when the Native American Civil Rights movement was at its most public. Classic tropes such as the Indian Princess/Squaw, the Screaming Savage, and the Noble Savage/Vanishing American that were defined in 19th Century literature and by Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West shows are shown to have evolved as audience attitudes about race and Manifest Destiny reflected a changing zeitgeist.