Becoming the White Man’s Indian: An Examination of Native American Tribal Web Sites

Fair, Rhonda S.
Plains Anthropologist

This paper examines Native Americans’ self-representation on tribally maintained web sites. To investigate the motivation for the selection of one representative image over another; the content and expected audience of tribal web sites are examined, with particular attention given to any discernible patterning between these two variables. Based on a survey of all web sites maintained by federally recognized tribes, a correlation exists between audience and content. Specifically, web sites directed toward a broader audience use more stereotypical images of Native Americans, whereas sites used by a particular native community emphasize a more specific tribal identity. This pattern demonstrates the multifaceted nature of identity, i.e., identity is situational and adaptive and can serve multiple purposes