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ERIC Number: ED310395
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Aug-11
Pages: 39
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
News and the "Indian Problem" in the Antebellum Period.
Coward, John M.
American Indian news as reported in urban newspapers and frontier weeklies during the 1820s and 1830s was shaped by the prejudices of the age as well as by the particular historical circumstances which brought Indians into conflict with White Americans. The press portrayed a culture for which it had little abiding sympathy or understanding, consigning Indians to negative stereotypes which offered an inaccurate portrait of Indians or Indian life. Newspapers published anecdotes which defined Indians by their weaknesses, while Indians in conflict with Whites were invariably characterized as savage and violence-prone. Moreover, in contrast to Whites, violent Indians in news stories were depicted with no explanation of the causes of their actions, as if they were innately violent. Additionally, the pre-telegraph antebellum press was based not on journalistic investigation or enterprise but on private correspondence, word-of-mouth reports and speculation, all sources open to exaggeration and error. Distortions, rumors, myths, and stereotypes in the media served an ideological function, namely to position the Indian at the margins of American life, to ensure continuing domination of Indians by Whites, and to preclude any moral confrontation with the idea of Indians as equals. (Sixty-seven notes are included.) (KEH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A