Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Communication Studies


Mass Communications.


Cuthbert, M.




This thesis examines the representation of Aboriginal people in popular film. Using cultural studies concepts, films by non-Native directors were compared to films by Native directors. The films Dances With Wolves and Dance Me Outside were analyzed as non-Native films and compared to the Native-directed Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, and Sentencing Circles: Traditional Justice Reborn. The objective was to explore how the films differed. The thesis makes an original contribution in that there is very little research applying cultural studies concepts specifically to Aboriginals in film. No studies were located that did so from an Anishinaubae perspective. Not surprisingly, it was found that more complex meanings regarding cultural identity are to be found in Native-produced films. Factors enabling these different meanings included the use of contemporary settings and contemporary issues, the use of Native people speaking for themselves and the advantage of having creative control over the finished product. Where several of these factors are missing, a more simplistic portrayal of the First Nations emerges. The thesis concludes that the American domination of film distribution in Canada and the United States limits the choices of Native filmmakers seeking an audience for their work. Thus, the simplistic representation of Aboriginal people will continue to dominate the non-Native public consciousness.Dept. of Communication Studies. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1997 .R47. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 37-01, page: 0013. Adviser: Marlene Cuthbert. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1997.