Peter Pan is regarded as a beloved and classic Disney movie. The film was released in 1953 and was an instant hit. At first look, Peter Pan is a fun story about an adventurous and magical boy who introduces three siblings to his home in Neverland, a place where children never grow up. Once further analyzed, the movie is revealed to be perpetuating Native American stereotypes through the depiction of Princess Tiger Lily and her tribe.
The Native Americans in Peter Pan are portrayed as inaudible, red faced savages. In a song featured in the movie, "What Makes the Red Man Red?" the Native Americans are all seen drumming and jumping around like animals, while wearing feathers in their long black hair. The Indian Chief explains his people's history and culture. The song says "Let's go back a million years to the very first Injun prince, he kissed a maid and start to blush and we've all been blushin' since." According to this, their genetic make up is the way it is because one Indian blushed red when he kissed a girl. They state this because there "needed" to be an explanation as to why their skin is not the "normal" human color of "white." The Native American's are also depicted as misogynistic; the woman Indian reprimands Wendy for dancing with the Indians and tells her that the women do not dance, they are supposed to gather fire wood instead. Near the end of the song, Wendy is also seen scolding her younger brother for joining in on the Indian's dance, demonstrating the Indians primitive nature.
This depiction of Native Americans reduces the culture to a subservient cartoon. If not obvious, this portrayal is extremely offensive. It blends all Indians together into one barbaric caricature, ignoring the diverse societies that are within the Native American culture.
The extreme racism against Native Americans in Peter Pan is problematic and is still commonplace in American culture today. There are still many sports teams that have Indians as mascots, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and the Blackhawks. Promoting the Native American culture as a mascot is inappropriate and oppressive. Racism against Native American's seems to be overlooked in today's society and although discrimination against Native American's may not seem as prevalent, it is still present and alive.