Opinion: Open season on Indians with MTV Cowboys and Findians

"In May 2010, the MTV reality show The Dudesons in America aired a new episode called “Cowboys and Findians.” The intent of this show might not have been to offend anyone. However, this episode presents a “red face” minstrel show as acceptable comedy. Would this blatant racism ever be tolerated if the show’s writers targeted any other American ethnic minority?

The “Cowboys and Findians” episode also perpetuates very offensive stereotypes regarding Native American spirituality, ceremonies, culture and customs. On the MTV Web site, the episode describes these four young Finnish characters “pursuing their goals of becoming honorary members of the tribe.” Which tribe? The Tongva people of the Los Angeles area? Considering the damage done by non-Native people “pursuing their goals” of cultural and spiritual misappropriation, this is alarming.

The commercialization of Native spirituality and culture has been going strong now for a few decades, but it seems to have hit its pinnacle recently with people paying as much as $9,000 to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony. The MTV statement above leaves the impression that this kind of thing is not only acceptable, but fun and entertaining.

Recall Don Imus in April 4, 2007, with his insensitive remark, “That's some nappy-headed hos”? The backlash was quick and effective. Yet it appears that Native Americans are an “open market” for these kinds of attacks, perhaps because we are a smaller population, and have historically been portrayed in the media, in all its forms, in a negative and false light."

Get the Story:
Michael Fairbanks: Red Face Minstrel Show Unamusing (The Santa Barbara Independent 7/17)

Also Today:
Taking AIM at Findians (The Santa Barbara Independent 7/17)