Module 2: Anti-Indigenous Racism
American artist Andy Warhol’s “Cowboys and Indians” series (1986) includes a portrait of Geronimo (image linked below). The series was part of what Warhol called “business art” that provided commercial products for collectors (Swenson). It comprised 10 silkscreen images reflecting Warhol’s twin fascination with popular culture and the western frontier. The collection included portraits of Hollywood actor John Wayne, best known for western movies that stereotyped the hard-nosed cowboy embodying grit, and Annie Oakley – a White, female sharpshooter who headlined at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The series also comprised portraits of two other Native American warriors because, after all, cowboys in American mythology are constructed in relation to “Indians.”
View the Portrait of Geronimo by Andy Warhol
Geronimo’s commodified image is part business and part spectacle that invites the White gaze and reinforces racial hierarchies. This module is an attempt to “peck away at the gaze” (Morrison 210). It looks at how White settlers racialized Indigenous peoples through institutional structures and practices that facilitated territorial control and cultural genocide (Honouring the Truth 1).
Complete Reflection 2.1 (Module 2 Pre-Assessment) in your Reflection Journal.
Reflect on the portrait of Geronimo using the prompts below:
- Do you think this painting represents an example of the White gaze?
- What ideas and feelings about past and current Indigenous-settler relations does it evoke?
For more information, please see the Reflection Journal Instructions in the Introduction to this Pressbook.