Indian princess or Indian squaw: The stereotype lives on
Galloway, Margaret E.
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A casual review of the literature portraying Native American women reveals characters which fall into one of two stereotypical guises: Indian princess, or Indian squaw. Both Byler and Mickinock point out that biased portraits may not appear to be calculated, but Native American women feel that these stereotypes have undermined their tribal roles and demeaned them in the eyes of the dominant Western European culture. The stereotype of the Indian princess portrays a young, beautiful virgin who willingly endorses the European ways as superior to her own religion, culture, and society. She frequently saves the life or lives of European interlopers and may offer herself in marriage to the European leader. The stereotypical Indian princess converts to the Christian faith with considerable fervor, and she nearly always expresses shame or guilt for the barbaric customs of her own faith. Literature shows that after she has sacrificed her customs, her people, and her culture to the aliens, the Indian princess almost always loses her life as well. The literary reward of an Indian princess is portrayal as a young, beautiful, intelligent, and possibly mythical figure. The final actuality is nearly always disease, abandonment, and death.