Volume 21, Issue 3, Fall 1999
Sandy Marie Anglás Grande
Beyond the Ecologically Noble Savage
Deconstructing the White Man’s Indian
I examine the implications of stereotyping and its intersections with the political realities facing American Indian communities. Specifically, I examine the typification of Indian as ecologically noble savage, as both employed and refuted by environmentalists, through the lenses of cognitive and social psychological perspectives and then bring it within the context of a broader cultural critique. I argue that the noble savage stereotype, often used to promote the environmentalist agenda is nonetheless immersed in the political and ideological parameters of the modern project. Finally, I reassert the right and, more importantly, the authority of Native American peoples to ultimately define for themselves their respective identities and destinies.