Minneapolis artist challenges American Indian stereotypes with modern dance show
The stereotype of what an American Indian person looks like is deeply etched into our cultural imagination. We see the familiar image on sports logos, on Land O’Lakes butter containers, in cartoons and on TV. But that contorted idea of a feather-wearing, leather-clad “savage” frozen in time has nothing to do with how native people live in today’s world.
With a new multimedia dance piece and companion art exhibition, Minneapolis artist and choreographer Rosy Simas sets out to challenge that narrow perception.
Simas says she has often felt invisible as a native woman. “People have an idea of what they think native people look like, and I don’t fit that idea,” she said. “It’s because of the stereotypes that we have been created over time.” According to Simas, most of our American Indian stereotypes are derived from what the Plains Indians looked like more than a century ago. And she hardly fits that mold. She’s a member of the Seneca Nation, which is based in upstate New York, and was herself born in Florida, moving to Minnesota with her family when she was 5.