Generations of North American children have grown up watching “cowboys and Indians” films and TV shows and reading books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Little House on the Prairie. Popular films and novels reinforced the notion that Indigenous people existed only in the past—forever chasing buffalo or being chased by the cavalry. These images showed them as destined to remain on the margins of “real” society. Such impressions and childhood beliefs, set at an early age, are often the hardest to shake: as Anishinaabe writer Jesse Wente explains, “In the absence of appropriate representations of Indigenous Peoples in the media, misrepresentations become the accepted ‘truth.’”
Indigenous media has a long history in Canada. While the earliest newspapers aimed at Indigenous readers were published by settlers, there have been Indigenous-run papers since Ojibwa chief, doctor and publisher Peter Edmund Jones, also called Kahkewaquonaby, launched The Indian in Hagersville, Ontario, in 1885. This tradition has continued with papers such as Wawatay News, based in northern Ontario and Edmonton’s Windspeaker.
Media have always shaped the public’s perception of Indigenous people: the wise elder (Little Big Man); the princess (Pocahontas); the loyal sidekick (Tonto)—these images have become engrained in the consciousness of North Americans.
This lesson considers how the media portrays women in politics. Students explore capsule biographies of female political leaders, from ancient times to current events – crafted from snippets of media coverage such as newspapers, magazines, TV news and encyclopedias – to understand bias in how female politicians are portrayed.
In this three-day unit, students assess media coverage of natural disasters and their aftermath. Students explore how sensationalism plays a role in determining what is newsworthy, and how that can distort our perception of issues in developing nations.
This is the first of three lessons that address gender stereotypes. The objective of this lesson is to encourage students to develop their own critical intelligence with regard to culturally inherited stereotypes, and to the images presented in the media - film and television, rock music, newspapers and magazines.