The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council has awarded the Sequoyah National Research Center $20,000 to process and exhibit the Herschfelder-Molin Stereotypes Collection.
The collection of 1400 artifacts was donated to SNRC by Arlene Herschfelder and Paulette Molin in 2012 and consists of advertisements, sports memorabilia, toys, books, clothing, and other items depicting Native American stereotypes collected over a forty-year period.
The stereotypical depictions of American Indians over the history of the United States have ranged from the “noble savage,” to the “Indian princess,” to the “drunken Indian” and more but the end result of all has been one of dehumanization and marginalization. Ask any group of third grade students to draw a picture of an Indian, and most, if not all, will create a figure dressed in feathers, buckskin, and beads. Ask their teachers to name an Indian tribe, and most, if not all, will name Cherokee, Navajo, or Sioux. For most Americans, the expression “American Indian” conjures up a generic, stereotyped image. Unfortunately, many have not progressed much beyond their third grade concepts. The Hirschfelder-Molin Stereotypes Collection represents a major resource for teachers and others to draw on to talk about intolerance and racial stereotyping.