Activity 4: Addressing
Stereotypes About Native Americans
The history of indigenous people in the United States'
dominant white culture has been plagued with stereotypes that inhibit real
progress toward developing attitudes of tolerance and acceptance.
While this has been true for all minority cultures in our
country, negative stereotypes of Native Americans have been especially
This activity asks students to critically examine where
negative stereotypes are found and how these stereotypes have influenced
attitudes and behavior toward Native Americans.
Activity A: Identifying Stereotypes
1. Have students define the word "stereotype."
2. Discuss: What is the difference between positive and
negative stereotypes? Why are both types of stereotypes detrimental to building
authentic, positive relationships? How can the students avoid letting
stereotypes influence their attitudes and relationships?
3. Discuss: Where do we find stereotypes depicted in our
modern culture? (Students should address: media, holidays, sports, textbooks.)
4. Ask students to keep a log of stereotypes they see on
television for one week. They should include both television programs and
commercials. The log might include the following: Program/Commercial, group
stereotyped (e.g., women, men, teenagers, ethnic groups - specific, elderly
people, people with disabilities), description of the negative stereotype
displayed, their reaction to the stereotypical depiction.
5. After one week, use a class period or two to have students
share their logs. You may wish to have them prepare copies of the log for the
entire class or take turns presenting their logs to the class orally.
6. Divide the class into small groups of 4-6 students each and
ask each group to address the following:
- Which four stereotypes (from any student's log) had the
most impact on the students?
- How did the stereotypes make the students feel?
- How does each negative stereotype hurt the group depicted?
- How could the producers of the program or commercial
present the group in a more positive, less stereotypical way? (Basically a
re-write of the program or commercial.)
7. After the students have had sufficient time to discuss
these points, ask students to come together as a class and present their results
to the class.
Activity B: Identifying Negative Native American
1. Discuss the meaning of negative stereotypes and the impact
they have on development of attitudes toward groups of people.
2. Discuss: Are negative stereotypes always false? Are they
ever based on accurate historical facts? If so, how can they still be negative
toward a group?
3. Provide the class with the list of negative stereotypes
about Native Americans detailed below.
4. As a class, read through the list.
5. Ask students to choose one stereotype each. Try to avoid
more than one student for each stereotype.
6. Ask students to write a one-page paper that addresses the
7. Student papers may be presented orally to the class, published
on a class web site, displayed on a bulletin board.
- Examples of how the stereotype has been promoted through
various media (movies, television, novels, news reports, web sites,
commercials, historical interpretations, etc.) and celebration of holidays.
Students should cite specific examples from research.
- Description of how the stereotype has a negative impact on
attitudes toward Native Americans.
- Description of how the stereotype is or is not based on
fact. Students should research reliable, relevant, credible historical
resources upon which to base their assertion.
- Description of what could be done to eliminate the negative
stereotype in our culture.
- Summary of action steps the student recommends.
Standards: (Source: McREL K-12 Standards at
Behavioral Studies Standard 1: Understands
that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity,
- 5. Understands that various factors (e.g., wants and needs,
talents, interests, influence of a family and peers and media) affect decisions
that individuals make.
- 1. Understands that cultural beliefs strongly influence the values and
behavior of the people who grow up in the culture, often without their being
fully aware of it, and that people have different responses to these
Language Arts Standard - Writing Standard 1: Demonstrates
competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
- 11. Writes compositions that speculate on
problems/solutions (e.g., identifies and defines a problem in a way
appropriate to the intended audience, describes at least one solution, presents logical and well-supported
- 10. Writes
descriptive compositions (e.g., uses concrete details to provide a
perspective on the subject being described; uses supporting detail
[concrete images, shifting perspectives and vantage points, sensory
detail, and factual descriptions of appearance]).
Language Arts Standard - Writing Standard 4: Gathers and
uses information for research purposes.
- 2. Uses
the card catalog to locate books for research topics
- 3. Uses
the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and other indexes to gather
information for research topics
- 4. Uses
a computer catalog to gather information for research topics
- 5. Uses
a variety of resource materials to gather information for research
topics (e.g., magazines, newspapers, dictionaries, schedules, journals,
phone directories, globes, atlases, almanacs)
- 6. Determines
the appropriateness of an information source for a research topic
- 7. Organizes
information and ideas from multiple sources in systematic ways (e.g.,
time lines, outlines, notes, graphic representations)
- 8. Writes
research papers (e.g., separates information into major components based
on a set of criteria, examines critical relationships between and among
elements of a research topic, integrates a variety of information into a
- 1. Uses
government publications to gather information for research topics
- 2. Uses
microfiche to gather information for research topics
- 3. Uses
a variety of news sources to gather information for research topics
(e.g., newspapers, news magazines, television, radio, videotapes,
- 5. Synthesizes
a variety of types of visual information, including pictures and
symbols, for research topics
- 6. Uses a variety of primary sources to gather information
for research topics
- 8. Determines
the validity and reliability of primary and secondary source information and
uses information accordingly in reporting on a research topic