Redface is the term being used to describe the wearing of feathers, warpaint, etc. by non-natives which perpetuate Native American stereotypes, analogous to the wearing of Blackface. In the early twentieth century, it was often Jewish performers, coping with their own limited access to mainstream society, who adopted blackface or redface. In the early days of television sitcoms, "non-Native sitcom characters donned headdresses, carried tomahawks, spoke broken English, played Squanto at Thanksgiving gatherings, received 'Indian' names, danced wildly, and exhibited other examples of representations of redface".
The copying from minority cultures by members of a dominant culture is cultural appropriation, which is not universally viewed as a negative activity with regard to "artistic borrowing". However, redface has been used to describe non-native adoption of indigenous culture, no matter how sympathetic, such as the painters in the Taos Society of Artists during the early 20th Century portraying themselves in their own works wearing native clothing.
Redface in sports, fashion and pop culture
While now often associated with the behavior of sports fans for teams with Native American names or mascots, redface also includes other instances such as "Indian" Halloween costumes, or headdresses as a fashion accessory.
Redface in Hollywood movies
Westerns were a popular film genre from the 1930s to the early 1960s. A common plot involved conflict between Native Americans and the cavalry, settlers, or both. Native actors, when present, usually portrayed minor characters or extras.
Espera Oscar de Corti, an Italian-American, had a decades-long career portraying Native Americans as Iron Eyes Cody.
Beginning in the late 1960s, westerns attempted to depict a more realistic and balanced view of the Old West in movies such as Little Big Man. However, the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto in Disney’s 2013 revival of The Lone Ranger was labelled as "redface".
- Broken Arrow (1950) - Jeff Chandler as Cochise and Debra Paget as Sonseeahray ('Morningstar'). Mohawk actor Jay Silverheels portrayed Geronimo
- Winchester '73 (1950) - Rock Hudson as "Young Bull"
- The Searchers (1953) - Henry Brandon as Chief Cicatriz ("Scar")
- Apache (1954) - Burt Lancaster as the main character, Massai. (Monte Blue, who was part Cherokee and Osage portrayed Geronimo)
- Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) - The story includes several members of the Blackfoot tribe portrayed by non-Native actors.
- Sitting Bull (1954) - J. Carrol Naish in the title role and Iron Eyes Cody as Crazy Horse (also as "technical advisor" for the film)
- Chief Crazy Horse (1955) - Victor Mature in the title role
- The Indian Fighter (1955) - Kirk Douglas in the title role fights "Red Cloud" portrayed by Eduard Franz, "Grey Wolf" by Harry Landers and "Crazy Bear" by Hank Worden
- The Unforgiven (1960) - Audrey Hepburn as "Rachel Zachary", a native child adopted by a white family
Last of the Mohicans
The James Fenimore Cooper novel The Last of the Mohicans was filmed many times. Not until 1992 were Native Americans cast in all the major roles in the story of Uncas son of Chingachgook who was the last "Mohican" until he was killed by Magua, a Huron chief. The actual Mohicans continue to live in the Hudson River Valley.
|1920||Theodore Lorch||Wallace Beery||Alan Roscoe||American|
|1920||Béla Lugosi||Kurt Rottenburg||German|
|1932||Hobart Bosworth||Bob Kortman||Frank Coghlan Jr.||American Serial|
|1936||Robert Barrat||Bruce Cabot||Phillip Reed||American|
|1947||Buster Crabbe||Rick Vallin||American, retitled "Last of the Redskins"|
|1965||José Marco||José Manuel Martín||Daniel Martín||A Spanish/Italian production done in the style of a Spaghetti Western, the character Magua is renamed "Cunning Fox"|
|1965||Mike Brendel||Ricardo Rodríguez||Daniel Martín||German: Der letzte Mohikaner|
|1977||Ned Romero||Robert Tessier||Don Shanks||Romero was of Chitimacha ancestry|
- Cultural appropriation
- Native Americans in popular culture
- Stereotypes of indigenous peoples of Canada and the United States
- The Associated Press (March 17, 2019). "Native Americans say movement to end 'redface' is slow". The Oregonian.
- Peter Antelyes (2009). "Haim Afen Range: The Jewish Indian and the Redface Western". MELUS. Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. 34 (3): 15–42. doi:10.1353/mel.0.0047. JSTOR 40344855. S2CID 126754809.
- Dustin Tahmahkera (2008). "Custer's Last Sitcom: Decolonized Viewing of the Sitcom's "Indian"". American Indian Quarterly. University of Nebraska Press. 32 (3): 324–351. doi:10.1353/aiq.0.0012. JSTOR 25487882. S2CID 161435088.
- Young, James O. (2010). Cultural Appropriation and the Arts. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 156. ISBN 9781444332711. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
- John Ott (2009). "Reform in Redface: The Taos Society of Artists Plays Indian". American Art. The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 23 (2): 80–107. doi:10.1086/605710. JSTOR 10.1086/605710. S2CID 191229545.
- Erik Brady (July 21, 2014). "Native American activists seek to eliminate 'redface'". USA TODAY Sports.
- Adrienne J. Keene, EdD (November 1, 2010). "Native Appropriations: Paris Hilton as a "Sexy Indian"". Retrieved October 16, 2015.
- "Depp provokes Lone Ranger race row over 'redface' Tonto". The Times. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
- "Redface at the Movies 1950-1960". BGSU - University Library. Retrieved June 30, 2020.