Oh ANTM, where do I even start?: Mariah Watchman and the Pocahontas controversy

March 2, 2012 — 60 Comments

This is not a post hating on Mariah Watchman, America’s Next Top Model’s very first Native contestant. At all. I’m so excited she’s on the show, and proud that she’s representing for all of Indian Country. Mariah is from the Umatilla rez in Oregon, but is also Ojibwe, Modoc, and Mandan, and seems pretty down-to-earth and awesome. This is much more about the show itself, and the messages it sends us about society at large.

The premise of this season of ANTM is a competition between British models and American models (they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel after 18 seasons to keep it interesting, I guess), and on the first episode, the models were paired in what was termed a “Culture Clash”–one model from the US and one from the UK, each representing an “iconic figure from [their] individual country.” Ok, fair enough.

So here were the pairings:

George Washington vs. Queen Elizabeth
Janet Jackson vs. Scary Spice
Madonna vs. Elton John
Michelle Obama vs. Margaret Thatcher
Andy Warhol vs. Amy Winehouse
Jackie O vs. Princess Diana

and, finally…

Pocahontas vs. John Lennon 

Any guesses as to who they made portray Pocahontas? Yeah. Mariah. Her response (on the show) to the choice:

“Me representing Native Americans, I mean who else better for me to get than Pocahontas? But I’m also nervous, because she’s Pocahontas, and that’s a lot to live up to.”

She went on the record with an interview with her hometown newspaper discussing the choice as well (which was a choice of the producers, not her own), saying:

 “As soon as I heard what the competition was, I knew that’s who I would be. I was completely fine with it. There’s no one else I’d want more to portray. It’s someone everybody knows.” 

I think this is completely a reflection of the sad, sad state of our society if a proud Native woman feels the only “iconic figure” that “everyone knows” of her race is a 12 year old who was famous for “saving” and marrying an old white dude, and then becoming a Disney character. Awesome.

The choice of the producers to have her portray “Pocahontas” is straight up offensive too. Let’s pigeonhole the only Native contestant by forcing her to don an extremely stereotypical outfit and be an Indian. The thing that stood out to me was that Mariah was cast into a race-based role, while the other pairings had plenty of (relatively progressive) race-bending. George Washington, Elton John, Jackie O, and John Lennon (all white) were portrayed by models of color, which I thought was kinda cool. But, because Mariah’s heritage is her “exotic” selling point for the show, the producers felt the need to exploit it.

Then the outfit they put on her. Oh the outfit. It looks like they bought it straight off the pocahottie halloween page--fake buckskin, primary colored feathers, plains-style beading and designs, braids in her hair. And, the kicker, a tomahawk. Yes, a tomahawk. History lesson, ANTM: Pocahontas was from Virginia, and none of those stereotypes apply to her people. So basically they did what everyone seems to do when they want to “honor” Indians–drew upon every Hollywood Indian stereotype without any regard for historical accuracy, regionality, or how effing racist it is to make the only Native girl basically dress up in blackface. (I’m ready for the angry comments about that last part)

But during the judging I wanted to throw my remote at Nigel Barker’s face. Here’s the final picture:

It’s fine. There were others that were much worse (it’s the first episode!). But Nigel, with all his infinite wisdom, said this:

“First of all Mariah, I think you had a very easy thing to do. You’re Native American? (She nods) But I don’t feel that you’ve committed. I just don’t see the angst, I don’t see the feeling, I don’t see the passion. I just see you looking pretty.”

Dear Nigel, I’m sorry that Mariah did not live up to your stereotyped images of what a Native person should be, I’m pretty sure she was doing her best while dressed in a fake-ass outfit that trivializes and stereotypes her culture. So Native people/a 12 year old Powhatan girl are supposed to portray “angst”, and “passion”? Do you realize how ludicrous your statements are? She’s somehow supposed to be “better” at playing a fictionalized historic figure because she happens to be the same race? None of the other critiques mentioned anything about the model’s race. They didn’t tell the girl playing Michelle Obama that she could have done better because she happens to be black, and Michelle Obama is black, so why didn’t you channel your inner sassy black first lady? 

It’s just so frustrating. The only lens that millions of viewers of ANTM have to view us (Natives) through is that of stereotypes and false representations–even when faced with a, living, breathing counter-narrative to those stereotypes in Mariah. An educated, reservation-raised, Sahaptin language-speaking Native woman who doesn’t walk around in buckskin and braids, but is still Native (and proud!).

I sure hope this start doesn’t reflect how the rest of the season will go. To her credit, Mariah is taking it all in stride, and wants to use her new celebrity to give back to Indian Country, and tried to represent Native peoples in a positive light on the show:

“I felt I couldn’t be crazy or nonchalant about things because I had a whole people on my shoulders,” she said. “I had higher expectations for myself. I wasn’t going to go and be crazy and disrespect people because for Native Americans one of the hugest things is respect.”

and

“Native Americans haven’t had anybody in the celebrity industry,” she said. “There have been a few native actors – Adam Beach, Irene Bedard – but there’s never been a native so high up in the fashion industry who’s looked at on a celebrity level. People don’t want to listen to you unless you come from a place of power. There are a lot of improvements across Indian country that can be made. I want to start helping out and being a factor.” 

Finally, one image that did make me proud, here she is rockin her medallion during the panel judging:

So, thanks ANTM for showing us, once again, how deeply stereotypes and erasure of Native people run in our national narrative.

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • hello

    Who would you recommend that her image portrait? Just wondering.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=776143108 Julie Leonardo

      How about Sitting Bull? There were other women dressed as men. Why not him since he’s well known. Maria Tallchief is good, Wilma Mankiller, to name just a few.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sloane-Cornelius/100000619650077 Sloane Cornelius

        If they had actually made anyone a renowned chief I would have lost my mind. If they can’t even give a living Native person the respect they deserve, I doubt they would do it for a huge historical figure for Indian Country. I would have lost it because of the disrespect and lost all respect for the model for allowing it to happen.

        • Becky

          She shouldn’t have been pigeon-holed at all. That’s just disrespectful altogether. The rest of it – Pocahontas and the mishmash of images – just digs it in deeper.

      • Mary

        You’re right, this could have been a great opportunity to educate and be historically accurate instead of creating a fictional image that NDNs resent, humiliating Mariah by making her play the part and then berating her for not fulfilling their stereotype which was born of ignorance.

    • http://jadedhippy.blogspot.com/ whatsername

      I said this above, but her pairing is John Lennon. How about a famous USian musician who is at least sort of his contemporary? How about Johnny Cash? Buffy Sainte-Marie? Bob Dylan? Elvis Presley? There are so many recognizable people to choose from it’s absurd.

  • Piper

    Sarah Winnemucca, Maria Tallchief, Dahteste, Gouyen, Lozen all come to mind, and yes I am from Ne Mexico and now live in Nevada

    • Emmy

      Sacagawea, Shanawdithit

  • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

    Pocahontas was actually a really interesting historical figure. At age twelve, she was a trusted adviser to her father, Powhatan, the leader of a nation. She became an ambassador of sorts after the mock-execution of John Smith, which had nothing to do with romance and everything to do with diplomacy: Powhatan may have wanted to show his might, may have wanted to adopt Smith in order to gain access to the English, and a mock execution was a culturally significant gesture. Pocahontas became a very important woman at age twelve, and after later marrying John Rolfe, she went to England to show that the Natives could be “civilized.” She died there.

    I do think Pocahontas is a fascinating figure. I’ve learned all of this about her because I teach Disney’s Pocahontas in my university “Indians in Cinema” class. Nothing that I find fascinating about Pocahontas has anything to do with the hypersexual Disney myth that is the culmination of many years of people getting Pocahontas wrong.

  • http://alagarconniere.wordpress.com/ julia

    for those defending her having been assigned to portray pocahontas: fine. but adrienne adequately points out that she is not portraying pocahontas – rather, she is a mishmash of “indian princess” stereotypes. why is she wearing what looks like a cheap halloween costume? why would pocahontas be holding a tomahawk? if they TRULY wanted her to embody the historical figure, like the others did, why not be at least a little tiny bit accurate? rather than going the stereotypical racist route?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jill-Elliott/100000798936461 Jill Elliott

      Thank you! I could not have said that better… I agree completely and haven’t seen the episode but from the picture it made me shudder. On campus I am tired of seen cheap fringe boots that smell that they are made from American Eagle or Etsy. Not to mention blatant racist bs…

    • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

      Just to clarify my own position–I’m not actually defending her having been assigned to portray Pocahontas. Quite the contrary. I’m saying that what is interesting about Pocahontas has nothing to do with looks, and certainly nothing to do with this costume. I think a good way to pay tribute to Pocahontas is to learn more about her.

  • ravenlady

    I feel sad that Mariah had to put up with the same old and very tired stereotypes in the 21st century..come on already!!

  • Guest

    Agree with your comments, but she is not the first Native on the show. She is the first tribally enrolled Native on the show though.

    • Mary

      What was the blood quantum and tribal affiliation of the first native? 1/64th Cherokee?

    • Tyishamitchell

      The only Natives ARE tribally enrolled Natives. You don’t see us claiming European heritage, especially if its only a small fraction! The mosquitos already sucked that blood out.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1663693208 Amelia Mavis Christnot

        If enrollment had anything to do with ancestry or bloodlines, I’d agree with you. But since each tribe gets to decide who they’ll enroll and under what terms and much of it is about internal politics, or worse – money, then you’re wrong.

        There are plenty of Natives that under a fair and unbiased system would be enrolled who don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of getting enrolled.

        That doesn’t remove their Native ancestry.

  • http://eveninglanterns.blogspot.com/ Maria

    I would also think it was laziness on the producers part – couldn’t they have stretched their imaginations to something not so obvious?

    • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

      Or, they could have allowed her to depict something completely separate from the stereotype. Think of Graham Greene’s roles–sometimes he pokes fun at stereotypes, sometimes he works completely outside of them. Just because someone is Native doesn’t mean he or she needs to be attached to a stereotype. But you’re right, Maria, laziness drives people to invoke them. Why couldn’t Mariah Watchman have been the one to dress up as John Lennon?

      • http://jadedhippy.blogspot.com/ whatsername

        Well she couldn’t have been John Lennon because the challenge was about representing someone from your nation-state who is famous. She’s USian so she would be representing a USian person. But surely there are a million other people besides Pocahontas she could have been.

        Something that I find particularly annoying about the choice is: look at the other pairings. They make sense, they’re all related in some way. Political women: Thatcher vs. Obama. Musicians: Jackson vs. Spice and John vs. Madonna, Etc. Etc. They’re ALL like that EXCEPT HER PAIRING. Pocahontas vs……. John Lennon?? Wtf do they have to do with each other? It’s like they just decided the Native girl HAD to be Pocahontas and some Brit HAD to be John Lennon so let’s throw them together…yeah!!! We’re fucking brilliant!!

        (I mean I guess Warhol vs. Winehouse is a little weird but not nearly so much so)

        And you know it could have fit better even if they were so attached to the Pocahontas idea. What about Pocahontas vs. Boudica? Both iconic indigenous women, wow, weird!

        Or, and what I would have preferred… John Lennon vs. Buffy Sainte-Marie? Or John Lennon vs. Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan? There are SO MANY PEOPLE JOHN LENNON COULD HAVE BEEN PAIRED AGAINST AND MADE SENSE IT IS BLOWING MY MIND.

        • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

          Totally missed that about the challenge! Thanks for making sense of it for me.

        • Kdmw

          She couldn’t have been Buffy Sainte-Marie either, because she’s Canadian.

          • Emmy

            True, however if she’s true to her heritage then the current borders are ridiculous anyhow.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1663693208 Amelia Mavis Christnot

            Buffy Ste. Marie was born in Canada but is a naturalized US citizen. She was raised in the state of Maine, in the USA, and now lives in Hawaii.

  • steve julian

    I think it is the default mechanism for people, to put the Native in the Native. I think the lady was put in a very hard position. What is she going to say and do? People would not have understood that they were being racist in their putting in that position. They are ignorant of what is right. But that is the problem, too much ignorance out there. Too much that is acceptable to peg-hole people into what the “vision”- perception is of who they are. I feel bad for the lady. Put in a position and had to make the best of the situation. At least she didn’t put her hand to her lips and go woowoowoo.

  • http://www.StraightNoChaserMom.com/ Jennifer

    Such an intelligent exploration. Much to ponder. Although I don’t watch t.v. and have seen hardly any of ANTM (at first I thought this was an acronym or something for “Aunty Em!”–seriously, my brain was trying to make sense of it) I think the points raised are relevant across the board.

  • OOO7

    A major factor in this dillemma is what Native people have to compromise in order get their foot in the doors of the fashion and movie industries. Do they stand up for Native integrity and risk loosing what might be their major opportunity to break into a field dominated by non Natives OR say nothing and compromise by portraying something less than honorable? It has been pointed out in this forum that Pocahontas was an honorable historical figure. It has also been pointed out in other forums that Pocahontas sold out her people of the Powhatan Confederacy to European invasion and expansion. You be the judge?

    I am proud of Ms. Watchman. Very few Native people get the national media exposure that she is now receiving. I just hope she will use ANTN to educate the world about real Indigenous North Americans instead of ANTM using her to portray what they feel – is Native.

    • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com/ SoYeahSo

      It’s similar to the dilemma that blacks, Asians and Latinos faced, and continue to face. Playing the help, or the stereotypical character, just because those were the only roles available. I don’t know if there are other ways to break in, other than creating your own roles and jobs. But, you have to have money and clout to do that, and sometimes the only way to get it is to play the roles they give you. It’s truly disheartening.

      • chibiiiii

        And the reason why you purposely capitalized asians and latinos but not “blacks”? By the way, it’s African American.
        Otherwise put down black, yellow and brown. SMH.

        • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com/ SoYeahSo

          Thanks for letting me know how I should refer to MYSELF.
          Also, the reason I didn’t capitalize it is because I made a damned typo. Not sure what the reason is that you think all Black folks are American. Or that every Black person prefers the term African American.
          And lastly, even if I were just ignorant, there was no reason to come at me with immediate hostility. Unless you know someone’s intent, gentle correction is all that’s necessary.
          Sent from my Windows Phone
          ——————————

        • Guest

          Also, the reason I didn’t capitalize it is because I made a damned typo. Not sure what the reason is that you think all Black folks are American. Or that every Black person prefers the term African American.

          Sent from my Windows Phone
          ——————————

        • Guest

          And lastly, even if I were just ignorant, there was no reason to come at me with immediate hostility. Unless you know someone’s intent, gentle correction is all that’s necessary.

          Sent from my Windows Phone
          ——————————

    • emmy

      On a note of selling out her people, let’s bring it back to the fact that she was a CHILD.
      I’m good with all other points.

  • Anita

    an earlier episode of ANTM had models (non-Native) wearing Plains style feather headdresses. Visually pretty, from a photographic standpoint but really not appropriate. You’d think Tyra would be more sensitive to ethnic issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003155225335 Angela Davis

    Wow, Adrienne. You hit the nail right on the head–Go with your bad self. You broke it down perfectly. You’re right about Pocahontas, she was 12 and wasn’t prancing around in mini-buckskin dress like in Disney’s Pocahontas. That movie pissed me off SO much (No offence Irene). And didn’t Pocahontas marry John Rolfe, not John Smith? Do I remember my history correctly? Anyway, your article was great. Thanks for posting!

  • Whiteskycloud

    Pocahontas is my relative. My grandfather is a Rolfe. She married a Rolfe..I have the documents proving this..I was told many stories about my ancestor. But what I understand is that the history needs to be heard from the Nation where she came from. I am proud to see someone from a Native American Culture. There are many First Nations women actors & models that would like to represent the real stories of times past..from the perspective of our Nation. My name is Derrick Whiteskycloud. In Canada we try to give fairness of the real movie themed historical society. Sometimes the USA can use get a real First Nations woman. But for some reason Hollywood thinks they need a famous movie star to get the real story across. I say give our women the real chance to prove what a REAL FIRST NATIONS WOMAN felt in our history. Get the Elders to tell you what it was like…then you will know..all my relations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.l.simpson Steven Lewis Simpson

    Interesting also how they pair up the wife of an American Leader with a British woman leader since the US also discriminates against women in politics more than most democracies and is in the lower half of the scale in the world when it comes to percentage of women in government. Iraq and Afghanistan are higher. You are also totally right about myth v reality though the myth of George Washington for example is even more extreme than Pocahontas. As much as the myth v reality thing is disturbing what is even more disturbing is that you have to go back 100′s of years to come up with the ONLY woman from Indian Country that the rest of America has ever taken the time to hear about. That is an obscenity.

  • SMH

    The problem I have with this is that she allowed herself to wear that “outfit”, it would of been a much bigger statement to say “no” to wearing something that doesn’t a) represent our way at all and b) giving into the fashion industry “stereotyping”. One year, a model did not want to pose nude, she stuck to her guns. Otherwise, unfortunately, Mariah just perpetuated the “stereotyping” and we still have no strong voice for Native peoples. Now, only Native Country is talking about “shame on ANTM” and it doesn’t get the word out. Had she decided against wearing such an outfit, would of made for a better story because it cause controversy, even newsworthy. But sadly, she gave in to fit in.

    • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

      That’s tough. In part, I agree with you. But since this was the first challenge, if Mariah had said no to the outfit, she could have risked getting eliminated because of her defiance before viewers even got to know who she was. Then, how long would it be before another Native contestant would be invited to participate? (Not as a punishment, but because ANTM has taken this long to invite a Native participant to appear in the first place.) I’d say she gave in not just to fit in, but so she can actually have a shot at advancing.

  • Maria

    Thank you so much for writing this! I was so outraged by Nigel’s comments that I had to tell everyone I knew about it. I just knew I had to because I felt incredibly small and didn’t know who I could shout to. I live in Canada and I’m not Native; actually, I’m Cuban. But it just hit so close home. Just because I’m Cuban, I did not migrate in a raft. Just because you’re a certain colour, it does not mean you should be a certain way. Thank you once more for writing this on your blog!

  • http://twitter.com/amandamcneil Amanda McNeil

    Oh man did you see the episode one season where they made everyone dress up as a stereotypical what have you of a different race? It was basically forced black-face/white-face/whatever-face. I was horrified. And one of the black women was made native and she just….did not get it at all. Not that I blame her. It was a bad idea, but I found it not surprising at all that the only race the person crossing as didn’t “get” was the native one.

  • http://www.hontasfarmer.com/ Hontas Farmer

    I agree with everything you wrote here just one thing. The Powhatan Indians did use tomahawks. In fact, the word came into English from Virginia Algonquian.

    But yeah, that was the only remotely authentic thing she wore.

    If your curious this link shows water color images made by John white, a colonist at the lost (failed) colony of Roanoke about 30 years before Jamestown.

    http://www.virtualjamestown.org/images/white_debry_html/jamestown.html

    It shows how East Coast Algonquian men and women dressed and lived. As you can see some of it wouldn’t be socially acceptable today (i.e. during summer the women did not wear shirts as to them that area was not sexualized.)

  • http://thelifeacademic.wordpress.com Martina Lynne

    I wanted to tell you about how powerful this post was today, not just for me personally but for my classroom of freshmen composition students at the large public university (in the Pacific Northwest) at which I teach. I’ve read your blog for more than a year as a non-Native ally and have thought long and hard about the issues of Native representation and cultural appropriation. But I tend not to bring these conversations up in my class, for a variety of reasons. However, I read this today and was just so disheartened by yet another example of Pocahontas being the dominant image of Native women in the media. So I decided to give my students a sample argument about the harm of Native American sports mascots to use in practicing different kinds of appeals (appeals to authority, emotion, etc). I was hoping that it would be a chance for them to try on arguments that they might never have considered without devolving into a rant about culturally oppressive representation. Here’s how it turned out: my students tried on the argument. They made useful connections (Native American mascots are similar to minstrel shows and blackface, they tell me) and had an interesting conversation about the negative impact that the Braves might have. And then… it happened. A student made the “but what about the Celtics” argument and the conversation became about more than just how to write cogent argumentative essays. I put my lesson plan on the back burner and we spent 40 minutes — in a class about argumentation! — talking about the ANTM business and, well, and everything you write about on the blog. I’m really pleased to say that my mostly-white class had come to the consensus, by the end of that discussion, that dressing up like Pocahontas means so much more than just imitating a Disney movie. They came to the consensus that there was a difference between the Brave and the Celtic. They said they’d never had that kind of conversation before, that they just hadn’t ever thought about the kinds of images we see of Native peoples. I might not have taught them what they were supposed to learn tonight, but I definitely helped them unpack some of their own misconceptions about cultural appropriation and as proud as I am of myself right now, I’m mostly just grateful that you and this blog gave me a useful script that I could draw upon to help these young students learn to see their world a little differently. So seriously, thank you.

    • http://washuta.net/blog Elissa Washuta

      I think it’s awesome that you’re bringing a conversation like this to a composition course, as well. It’s important to have these conversations across departments and disciplines, not just in Native Studies courses. I really appreciate the idea of having the students learn by working through this issue together during class time.

      • http://thelifeacademic.wordpress.com Martina Lynne

        Thanks! That was one of the things that was so exciting: they had no expectation that they would come to class today and have a conversation like this one. But it’s dicey, too, you know? Because it’s a class about argumentation, I have to let them take the journey themselves through an argument, which means I can’t shut down conversation unless they veer into unethical territory. So there were some nail-biting moments for me when some of the students started to talk about, for example, how mascots are “not bad because the stereotypes are positive ones, like bravery and strength.” I just had to wait it out till another student found the problem with that logic and refuted the argument. I’m glad it worked, but it’s pretty scary to give up my control over the conversation.

        • Dana

          Hey Martina. I’ve got a syllabus FULL of readings that may be useful for developing these ideas and having the theoretical architecture to blow arguments like Celtics = Braves out of the water. Let me know if you’d like a copy.

          • http://thelifeacademic.wordpress.com Martina Lynne

            How cool! I actually have my hands tied a little in terms of what readings I can assign — I have to use our textbook, blahblahblah — but I’d love to see the readings anyhow, for my own education.

  • Eseeti

    She isn’t the only Native to make fashion. Pearl Running Deer is very well known in the industry. You can google her. She has made strides and brakes the mold.

  • Erica

    Excellent post! Thank you!

  • Dana

    Thanks for the great post! I just saw this terrible episode today and was absolutely stunned that they (at all levels) could be so blatantly racist, especially Nigel’s so-called “advice”. What is curious is the way that they use poor Mariah as a buffer — that they cast her as “honored” to represent this caricature and that her job is “naturally easy” due to some implied predisposition to Pocahontas-ness/Native-ness — ideas that align mostly with THEIR concepts of a native disposition. Guh. Keep up the excellent and incisive analyses!

  • http://girllosthermind.net/ janette

    Yep, this pretty much sums it up. I cant help but feel like the entertainment industry views Native Americans as novelties only suited for this romantic fantasy role. They miss the talent and substance that lies beneath. ANTM missed out. Mariah is insanely gorgeous! They never gave her a chance. Sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1663693208 Amelia Mavis Christnot

    I didn’t get why Pocohontas was even included as one of the people to depict on ANTM other than the producers thinking it was a great way to exploit having a Native person on the show. What the heck do Pocohontas & John Lennon have to do with each other? The inclusion of Pocohontas based on who they paired her with made zero sense.

    And why didn’t Nigel Barker ask the girl playing Janet Jackson “”First of all _________, I think you had a very easy thing to do. You’re African-American? (She nods) But I don’t feel that you’ve committed. I just don’t see the ‘rhythm or soul’ (or some equally offensive stereotype), I don’t see the feeling, I don’t see the passion. I just see you looking pretty.”

    Or why not ask the girl who did Princess Di “”First of all ________, I think you had a very easy thing to do. You’re white? (She nods) But I don’t feel that you’ve committed. I just don’t see the (insert racial stereotype here), I don’t see the feeling, I don’t see the passion. I just see you looking pretty.”

    He failed to bring anyone else’s race into his critique like he did when he asked Mariah why she hadn’t shown that famous Native American angst in her cheap Halloween costume depiction of Pocohontas. But didn’t the white girls and the black girls (some are British so African-American is a misnomer) have it really easy too since aren’t all white people and black people exactly alike? Or is that just a trait Natives have?

    The only people who did have a hard time were the ones portraying a race outside their own, so one of the models who had to depict a person of another race should have been the automatic winner.

    Unless of course Nigel was just being a racist a$$ when he made his comments to Mariah.

  • a visiting bird

    maybe they paired Pocahontas with Lennon because his name is John? Like Smith and Rolfe? It’s a stretch, but the only possible connection I can see at all.

  • Sazz

    I watched the episode and I remember getting so annoyed that they kept mentioning how she’s Native American and so is Pocahontas. It was like, they thought the photo was bad on it’s own, but then she sucked even more since she’s Native American and portraying another Native American. Seriously? It’s so ridiculous. I was hoping she’d stick around because she’s BEAUTIFUL and it was nice to see a Native American girl on the show. I just kept thinking, being Native American doesn’t mean she IS Pocahontas. They kept saying how she had the upper hand in the challenge because of her race, but she was not the only one portraying someone of her own race! And what does that have to do with it anyway? They should have focused on the photo and the modeling. Her race should not even have been considered.

  • penelope

    Thank you so much for this. I just watched the premier and got so angry. As a black girl, if I was asked to dress up as Aunt Jemima and told I should be good at it just because I was black then I would be furious. Unfortunately, so many people won’t even see the offense in this because if it’s not racist to black people then most Americans don’t even notice! It has to have been the most ignorant and racist thing I’ve ever seen on ANTM, especially Nigel’s comment.

  • Guest

    Thank you, good article and yes, completely agree with you. Unfortunately for Mariah, Pocahontas will be what most people will remember about her on the show, since she left the following week.
    I watch ANTM for fun sometimes and was quite shocked when seeing this episode…this is how I found this blog, so that’s definitely a big plus.
    I don’t know too much about Native American cultureS but I know what this must feel like for you as a people… it’s like Africans constantly portrayed in Massai outfits when the Massai are just a tiny people in East Africa and not at all representative of the huge cultural diversity that exists on the continent.
    We will overcome this some day.

  • Kst James7

    what 1st nation person proud of their umm,culture would even say native american!but than again many 1st nation people are just as clueless as the rest of the world.all americans born in the americas are native americans!1st nation people who have bought into a european constructed word and identity,should not use a label such as american if they want to set themselves apart.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08343778052333275786 kgoesele

    She is beautiful. In the first image I see a radiance about her.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12615022666718086936 45

    So would you be offended if a Japanese model wore a kimono?

  • Anonymous

    Mariah was told that it should have been easy for her to pull off being Pocahontus because she is native. If an oriental model was told it should be easy to pull off being a geisha girl or a black model was told it should be easy to pretend to be a slave, it would all be just as offensive. It is this archaic way of thinking that led to the slaughter and coralling of our peoples in the first place. Time for people to educate themselves and understand the fact that we are all just people, people with feelings that get hurt by stereotypes…