True History Today

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Images of American Indians in Popular Culture” by Sonya Ortiz.

The 1998 film "Smoke Signal" was the first feature film written, directed, co-produced, and acted by American Indians.

The 1998 film “Smoke Signal” was the first feature film written, directed, co-produced, and acted by American Indians.

“We need to be aware of how wrongful depictions contribute to views of Indigenous Peoples, namely how it emotionally affects our youth,” said Speakers Bureau presenter Sonya Ortiz. “For instance, in 2013 a restaurant posted on their marquee, ‘KC Chiefs will scalp the Redskins feed them whiskey send-2-reservation.’ Popular Indigenous imagery has created misguided depictions for decades, including today.”

In her presentation, Ortiz explores how depictions of the Indigenous peoples of North America can be found throughout mainstream culture. Hollywood films, cartoons, sports mascots, and new age gurus often portray American Indians as fierce warriors and other stereotypes. This presentation reclaims these false images to more truthfully explore both the history and current experiences of American Indians in today’s world.

Sonya Ortiz

Sonya Ortiz

Sonya Ortiz is a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Acoma Pueblo of New Mexico. She has an MA in Indigenous Studies from the University of Kansas and has worked as a teacher for 20 years. She also serves on many advisory boards advocating Native American community health and education.

You can bring Sonya Ortiz’s “Images of American Indians in Popular Culture” or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at) for more information.