We Are Still Here: Contemporary Issues in Native America
Introduction   spacer    StereoTypes     spacer     Leaders    spacer     Government Relations    spacer     Gaming


Festern society routinely relegates Native Americans to the past. They are the native people that Columbus encountered when he landed on the shores of America. In school, we may learn that the pilgrims survived their first winter in the New World because of the charity of King Massasoit; how Sacagawea guided Lewis and Clark across the West; and that General Custer was defeated at the Battle of Little Big Horn by Chief Sitting Bull. For centuries these historic images have been ingrained into the American conscience. However, American Indians are not only historical figures. They are a people of the present.

Read profiles of American Indians from the Boston College community

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 4.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the U.S. as of July 1, 2005. There are approximately 300 reservations in the U.S. where many American Indians and Alaska Natives live. However more than half (57%) are living in metropolitan areas.

There are around 10,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives living on reservations in New England, but most live on non-reserved land. View a list of some local tribes. In 2000 there were 53,065 American Indians and Alaska Natives living in Massachusetts, with 7,749 living in Boston. At Boston College there are 11 faculty members (full and part-time), 4 staff members, and 30 students who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native.

Woman and Daughters
In 2000, the Cherokee tribe was the largest American Indian tribal group in the country. *

In light of these statistics, why is there an absence of current and positive images of American Indians in the media? Why do Atlanta Braves fans continue to perform the “tomahawk chop” during baseball games, even after protests by American Indians groups? Why do so many sports teams consider it a matter of pride to have mascots with names like the Redskins, Braves, and Chief Wahoo? Why is it acceptable for the musical group Outkast to perform at the Grammys dressed as stereotypical Indians and dance around a teepee? Why are American Indians ignored when the issue of racism is discussed?

The purpose of this exhibit is to highlight some contemporary issues facing Native Americans and analyze common stereotypes of American Indians with the hope that this will increase understanding between cultures. This exhibit also seeks to introduce the Boston College community to some Native American people on campus, including a faculty member, a librarian, a student, and an alumna of Boston College.

*Photo by Lloyd Wolf. Data Source: Census 2000 Brief: The American Indian and Alaska Native Population
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