"Reading Red," Seeing Red
- Indian Comics Irregular #82
As a pseudo-journalist, I cover the field of Indians in pop culture.
A recent study explores how real journalists cover Native subjects.
Called The Reading Red Report, it documents the efforts of America's
As you might expect, the media has improved its Native coverage
dramatically in the last few decades, but there's still a long way to
go. According to the report, the biggest category of stories
featured "life on the reservation." This category is a good
indicator of the progress made:
A preponderance of "on the res" stories were from Pine Ridge,
S.D., or Window Rock, Ariz. At best, they provided information
about communities many readers know little about. At worst, they
reinforced stereotypes about barren landscapes, family feuds and
poor yet mystical people, the kind you might see in an old episode
of "Northern Exposure."
"On the res" stories also belied 2000 Census data that most Native
Americans lived in cities, not on reservations. So many stories
in The New York Times were datelined Pine Ridge that a reader
might not have realized that New York City's 87,241 Native American
residents make up the largest urban Indian community in the nation.
For more on Native journalism, head to
Natives on the Boob Tube
From the Associated Press, 5/15/02:
A 1999 vow by the major networks to include more minorities in
prime-time series has largely gone unfulfilled, according to an
analysis of the current season by Children Now, a research and
The networks are telling "essentially the same old tale," the
report said, in which younger white males predominate, ethnic
actors are relegated to supporting roles and female characters are
Minorities are much more likely than whites to be portrayed as
service workers, unskilled laborers and criminals.
Native Americans are largely ignored and Native American women are
nonexistent on network TV, the study found.
More studies of television's diversity are available at
Natives on the Big Screen
The news isn't all bad. Despite the box-office failure
of "Windtalkers" (see last issue), two new Native-themed movies are
about to make their mark.
I've seen previews of "Skins," Chris Eyre's tough new film,
and "Christmas in the Clouds," a lighthearted comedy (of all
things). I give "Skins" an 8.0 of 10 and "Christmas" a 7.5. They're
two of the least stereotypical Native movies ever.
Rob says: Check 'em out.
Natives in Funny Books
The first issues of SKINWALKER, a Navajo-based mini-series, are in
the stores. If you know anything about Diné culture, you know you
don't trifle with skinwalkers. The comic portrays Native life
surprisingly well...but it also may violate the culture's taboos.
It'll be interesting to see how the series pans out. For my initial
impressions, visit http://www.bluecorncomics.com/skinwlkr.htm.
Native Artists Online
I've linked to lots of new art on my Artists' Showcase page
(http://www.bluecorncomics.com/showcase.htm). That includes work by
Patrick Rolo, Gene Gonzales, Polly Keeshig-Tobias, Marty Two Bulls,
Alfred Villaneuve, Curtis Buckanaga, Matt Atkinson, and the hard-to-
find Ryan Huna Smith. Give it a look.
Blue Corn Comics