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Hollywood Natives

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"...when people like Mrs. Whitlow use this term they are not, for some inexplicable reason, trying to suggest that the subjects have a rich oral tradition, a complex system of tribal rights and a deep respect for the spirits of their ancestors. They are implying the kind of behaviour more generally associated, oddly enough, with people wearing a full suit of clothes, often with the same sort of insignia."
Terry Pratchett, on "savages," The Last Continent

Quite simply, this trope is the (hopefully) now-discredited stereotypical depiction of "natives" in a Hungry Jungle, Deserted Island, or other such unsettled wilderness. The locals will inevitably be portrayed as culturally "inferior" to the main characters — typical depictions will show the (usually dark-skinned) natives as unkempt and scantily clad, decorated with Tribal Face Paint and Savage Piercings, and brandishing spears or bows. When they meet the protagonists, they will either be mesmerized by the Mighty Whitey and accept them as gods, have the heroes for lunch, or invite them to be guests of the volcano god. They often have one woman among them, The Chief's Daughter, who looks more attractive by Western standards than the rest of her people, and falls in love with the Mighty Whitey protagonist. If they can speak the protagonists' language, expect lots of You No Take Candle.

A variation comes up with stereotypical depictions of American Indians in Injun Country — the approach is the same, and the only difference will be in the superficial details. They will wear Braids, Beads and Buckskins, speak using Tonto Talk, and add tomahawks to their arsenal. Their camps will be filled with Tipis and Totem Poles, they greet other people with a gruff "How," the chief will wear a giant feather headdress, and the elders will sit around a big bonfire for a "pow-wow." If they befriend the protagonists, a Peace Pipe will probably be smoked, and maybe the heroes will end up being honorary chiefs of the tribe.

Needless to say, when any of these folks appear, Unfortunate Implications will be quick to follow.

While this was a popular depiction in the past, it's largely a Dead Horse Trope now, due to the aforementioned Unfortunate Implications. If and when this trope appears in modern works, it's often subverted and played for laughs, or in more serious cases, being used as prop victims for human trafficking; straight depictions in mainstream Western culture are sure to raise eyebrows or risk quite a backlash.

A meta-trope to Captured by Cannibals, Hollywood Voodoo, Chased by Angry Natives, Stewed Alive, and many others. A supertrope to The Savage Indian, Cannibal Tribe, and The Natives Are Restless. Contrast with Noble Savage and Magical Native American, which glamorizes the locals instead of denigrating them. For the places where you're likely to find these guys, see the Hungry Jungle (especially in Darkest Africa and The Amazon Rainforest), the Land Down Under, Injun Country, Eskimo Land, and Tropical Island Adventure.

Not to Be Confused with people growing up near Los Angeles.


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    Comic Books 
  • The British Anthology Comic The Beano has "Little Plum", a comic strip set in Injun Country about a young indian boy from the Smellyfoot tribe. It is full of Indian stereotypes, and all of the Indian characters speak broken english, which consists of normal English but with words replaced with "um."
  • Conan the Barbarian: In Conan the Barbarian (2019), Picts are portrayed as like some pretty stereotypical Native Americans.note  However, they're portrayed far more sympathetically than in the original stories, as while fierce it's emphasized the Picts are defending themselves and hostile to outsiders with very good reason, as the Hyborians to the south want their land.
  • Often used by Condorito, always for humorous purposes.
  • Parodied in The Goon, where the hobos outside of town act like a savage Cannibal Tribe. Because they live in a "hobo jungle", you see.

    Film — Animated 
  • Near the end of All Dogs Go to Heaven, Charlie and Ann-Marie fall into an Absurdly Spacious Sewer, where they are captured by a tribe of rats wearing bone jewellery, who want to sacrifice them to their leader, a big-lipped, also bone-jewellery-wearing alligator named King Gator. Who then bursts into a random musical number when he hears Charlie howling in pain and decides he's got pipes too good to eat.
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West: On his way to Green River, Tiger is lured into a trap by the Mousican Tribe - a tribe of native mice, complete with the face painting, chanting, war cries, and everything. They plan on sacrificing Tiger, until the Chief sees him hanging by his paws above the camp fire exactly matches a butte shaped the same. Then they believe Tiger is their god and pamper him with a spread of fruits and vegetables.
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, the Chipmunks are taken by a South Pacific tribe who wear grass skirts and big floppy headdresses. They declare Theodore their Prince of Plenty, and plan to make him a Chipmunk Sacrifice.
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown: As Sid sleeps, he's taken away by a tribe of mini-sloths, who claim that Sid is their Fire King, since he previously "discovered" fire. The mini-sloths virtually mimic everything Sid does, which he then decides to use to his advantage by leading them into a devotion chant/song to him. Afterward, the tribe attempt to toss him into a lava as a sacrifice, on the grounds that his discovery of fire is the reason behind all the ice melting and the impending flood. Only one mini-sloth (presumably the tribal chief, or some kind of head priestess) can speak fluent English.
  • The Indians in the Disney Peter Pan movie. They smoke pipes, wear feathered headdresses, speak in Tonto Talk, and live in teepees. They even come complete with a song called "What Makes the Red Man Red."
  • The Pen Guans in Surf's Up, who try to cook Chicken Joe and occasionally attack the camera crew.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls has two examples of this, the peaceful Wachati tribe who wear colorful tribal decorations and worship a white bat as a totem (including The Chief's Daughter that falls for Ace), and the warlike Wachootoo, complete with chalk-white face and body paint, fur loincloths, and bad hygiene.
  • The Hovitos in the Chased by Angry Natives opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (blowguns, spears and a nasty attitude).
  • Invoked twice in Airplane!:
    • In one of his flashbacks, Ted talks about working with the Malombo tribe in the Peace Corps. Everyone is dark-skinned and wear cloth wraps and beads, and the men brandish spears and wear feathered headdresses and face paint.
    • One appears briefly during the "news bulletin" montage, wearing a necklace of beads and horns while using Jungle Drums to deliver a news report.
  • The Green Inferno: Obviously, most native tribes aren't this savage. To Roth's credit, he did get an actual tribe to play the part. In fairness it was an intentional homage to the cannibal films of the '80s. Nonetheless he was criticized harshly for this by the group Survival International, which advocates for tribal peoples, saying it was a racist depiction they felt would be used against them. Roth made a statement in reply saying people could tell fiction from reality (apparently the native actors found it hilarious) and logging companies need no excuse aside from greed.
  • In Heart of Darkness (1958), Kurtz's followers are absolutely textbook: they're a jungle-dwelling tribe of half-naked, painted, spear-wielding, drumming, dancing, cannibalistic Africans. The only common element missing is You No Take Candle English, and that's because most of them don't talk at all.
  • Island of the Fishmen: Rackham has the locals of the island he's on working for him. They look like this.
  • All versions of King Kong feature savage natives, who capture Ann Darrow / Dwan, and offer her as a sacrifice to their god Kong.
    • In the original 1933 film, they are as typical Hollywood Natives as possible.
    • Played with in the 2005 remake: the "natives" in the New York stage show use the same costumes, dance and music as the natives of the 1933 film, while the actual natives of Skull Island are half-feral scavengers squatting in the graveyard of their ruined Advanced Ancient Acropolis, the only area of the city that hasn't been long, long overrun by their many predators.
  • The Indian in the Cupboard: Little Bear pretty much subverts this, however, when Omri brings to life a figurine of a World War I medic named Tommy to tend to a wound of his, he greets Little Bear with, "How!", much to Little Bear's confusion.
  • Jungle Cruise: Frank invokes this trope In-Universe as part of his river tour. He works with a tribe of Amazon natives who dress up in over-the-top costumes and 'menace' the tourists a bit for him. They find the whole thing just as ridiculous as the audience does.
  • Lampooned in Maverick. Chief Joseph and his tribe are friends of Maverick, and at one point put on an elaborate show with war drums and whatnot to bilk a wealthy Russian Duke seeking a stereotypical "Wild West" experience. They also talk about a debt Joseph has to Maverick, which Maverick mistranslates to his colleagues as the tribe being angry about the whites trespassing on their sacred ground.
  • Spoofed in Operation Petticoat: The crew of the barely-operational Pacific-theater WWII submarine, figuring they need all the help they can get, have a native witch-doctor come in full masked regalia and perform a blessing ceremony. As the sub sputters out to sea, the witch-doctor pulls off his mask, watches for a moment, shakes his head and comments in fluent English "They'll never make it."
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has a Cannibal Tribe who worship Jack Sparrow as a god, and intend to free him from his physical form.
  • The documentary Reel Injun is all about this trope. It explores the evolution of the portrayal of Native American people in Hollywood movies.
  • The Ewoks from Return of the Jedi invoke this, not in their appearance (they look like Ugly Cute teddy bears), but in their behavior. They speak a language C-3PO calls "some kind of primitive dialect", use stone-age weapons and Bamboo Technology (which is still pretty effective against Imperial Stormtroopers), they capture the protagonists, carry them tied to a stick and attempt to eat them, and they worship C-3PO as their god.
  • The East African natives in West of Zanzibar, who wear grass skirts or short pants, decorate their dark skins with white facepaint, and speak in pidgin You No Take Candle English.
    Bumbu: "Me do like you say. Me tell white trader you steal ivory. Three days he be here."

  • Parodied in Don't Go Near the Water by William Brinkley. Edgar Rice Burroughs is coming for a visit, so the Navy brass suggest he do a PR tour to a nearby island, but the natives wear ordinary clothes and refuse to dress in loincloths for the occasion.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: Jaine meets some in Death of a Bachelorette, particularly their king, Konga, who wants Jaine to be his 12th wife.
  • The Kukuanas from King Solomon's Mines. Not only are they savage warriors living in unexplored Africa who attack all trespassers, they're also easily convinced into accepting Quatermain's party as great white "visitors from the stars" by their false teeth, glass eyes, and pale uncovered legs. Note however that the party has a Kukuana with them who makes no attempt to clue in his compatriots.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team. In "The Crystal Skull", the team parachutes onto a South Pacific island where this is played cringingly straight. Murdock is mistaken for a god and presented with the most beautiful woman in the village, everyone dances around in loincloths carrying spears with the only modern technology supplied by the villains, who are using a tribe of headhunters as their lackeys. Even the actors knew how ridiculous it was, as it ends with the natives supposedly chanting in homage to our heroes, but you can clearly hear they're saying, "Who wrote this? Who wrote this?"
  • Used as a gag in the short-lived series Black Tie Affair. One of the main characters is a catalog magnate à la J. Peterman and is shooting the photos for his upcoming catalog. The shoot in this instance is of a (white, female) explorer trussed up in a pot surrounded by natives. The black male models playing the natives complain that it's racist, so they are dressed as lawyers instead - but they still have the girl trussed up in a big pot.
  • Father Ted has a cannibal tribe about to throw Father Ted into a volcano. When he asks them to consider converting to Catholicism, they answer (in perfect English) that they disagree with his stance on contraception (it turns out to be a dream).
    Tribesman: Quixiquoddal, the Volcano God is angry. We must appease his wrath!
    Fr. Ted: Volcano God! What kind of nonsense is that? Look, I'll ask you one more time: would you not give Catholicism a try?
    Tribesman: It wouldn't really catch on here. We don't agree with the Pope's line on artificial contraception. It's the '90s for God's sake!
  • F Troop plays with this trope in the Hekawi indians, who have some superficial Hollywood Native traits mixed with Borsch Belt comedy. Then there's Stand-Up Bull, an Indian comedian, and while he certainly doesn't really speak Broken English, he does misuse certain nouns — as does the rest of his tribe.
    Stand-Up Bull: "Seriously tribe, take my brother, him not lazy, him too light for heavy work, and him too heavy for light work!" (Imitates a trumpet flourish)
    Chief: "Stand-Up Bull? No smoke-signal us, we smoke-signal you."
    • Having Yiddish stand-up comics play a Native American tribe had been intended as a subtle spoof on the then-popular claim that Native Americans were the lost 13th tribe of Israel.
  • Various tribes of this type appear throughout the run of Gilligan's Island. For example, the episode "Gilligan's Mother-In-Law" has a native family — complete with grass skirts, feathered headdresses, and bad language skills — choosing Gilligan to be a husband for their overweight daughter.
  • Green Acres: In the episode, "The Rains Came", Mr. Haney attempts to make it rain over a drought-ridden Hooterville with a rain-dancing Indian, who speaks broken English, refers to Lisa as, "Pret-ty squaw", and greets people with, "How!" He fails to conjure up rain, though.
  • Hogan's Heroes both inverts and, surprisingly (given the period the show was on), averts it at the same time in the episode, "Drums Along the Dusseldorf", which reveals Carter is a member of the Sioux tribe (his tribal name is Little Deer Who Goes Swift And Sure Through Forest), despite being fair-skinned and fair-haired. Many of the others razz him throughout the episode with stereotypical war cries, and peppering him with silly questions—not only is Carter clearly annoyed by all of this, but also uncharacteristically slips into Sarcasm Mode. He does, however, take the time to build a bow and arrow set, which he shows little skill with, despite claiming winning a lot of trophies for his archery skills back home.
  • Not surprisingly, these frequently appeared as supporting characters in various stories of The Lone Ranger.
  • Chief Urulu's people in McHale's Navy were almost identical to the ones on Gilligan's Island.
  • Miracle Workers: Benny goes from comically racist toward the Blackfeet (plus all Indigenous people) to coming around by a single talk with Sheila into championing their cause (but ends up taking a "white savior" role as a result, greatly annoying them). It's Played for Laughs, likely parodying Dances with Wolves, among other depictions.
  • The Munsters: While on vacation, Herman is separated from the rest of the family, and stumbles onto a tourist attraction that is a show business tribe, and although most everyone is an actor dressed up as and acting like a Hollywood Native, the tribe somehow has an actual Native American Chief, who is so old and delusional that he believes his tribe is real, and even attempts to marry Herman to his daughter.
  • Seinfeld parodies this in "The Cigar Store Indian", one of which Jerry gives to Elaine as an apology gift, not realizing that her friend Wynona is a Native American (and clearly offended by not only Jerry's gift, but also his apology card that says, "Let's bury the hatchet. We smoke-em peace pipe"). Jerry and Wynona do eventually put it aside when Jerry apologizes in a better way, only for Jerry to end up offending her again by implying she's an Indian giver when he wants back a copy of TV Guide she had given him.

  • The 1947 song, Civilization (written by Bob Hilliard and Carl Sigman), is a humorous satire of this trope. It's about a native of The Congo who learns about the "civilized" world from a missionary. From the Congolese native's perspective, the "civilized" world sounds like a mess.
    Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't wanna leave the Congo
    Oh, no, no, no, no
    Bingle bangle bungle, I'm so happy in the jungle
    I refuse to go
    Don't want no penthouse, bathtub, streetcars, taxis, noise in my ear
    So, no matter how they coax me, I'll stay right here!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Subject of numerous gentle gags in The Far Side. One typical example has one of these guys stealing the idol (a TV set) of a mob of angry suburbanites.
  • Pretty much every native tribe The Phantom ever encountered, to a greater or lesser extent, although the depictions have tended to become more nuanced as the series goes on.

  • Congo has several "Ghost Tribe" natives, all shown topless and with ash-grey skin.
  • Played with in Bally's Gilligan's Island pinball. While there is a shirtless native brandishing a spear and holding up a Shrunken Head, he's also unmistakably pale and wearing face paint that looks like a pair of oversized Nerd Glasses.
  • The backglass for Maverick The Movie has Bret Maverick's Indian friend, Chief Joseph, complete with full feathered headdress.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Bartering With Chief Thundercloud", the eponymous chief and his wife.

  • In the stage play and film of Animal Crackers, Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx) arrives via a sedan chair carried by African natives.
  • Peter Pan: Tiger Lily and the Picanniny tribe dance and sing "Ugga Wugga Wig Wam".

  • LEGO: Since the 1980s, LEGO has released themed building sets, and one of the earliest was the "Pirates" series. In 1994 a new series was released as an expansion: "Islanders." Surely it would be fun to supplement the pirates' naval adventures on the high seas with adventures on the archipelagos between those seas, perhaps trading or fighting with the native inhabitants. Unfortunately the titular islanders were designed primarily around a blend of Maori and Caribbean stereotypes. The islanders wore grass skirts, face paint and masks. They carried spears, decorated with bones, and built architecture featuring large Moai-esque statues. Being LEGO of the time, there was little in the way of character or story, except that the islander's leader was named "King Quextil" or "King Kahuka." There are no 18th-century pirates around to object to a fantasy based on them, but real island-dwelling (Polynesian or Caribbean) people might be uneasy about their image being remixed or caricatured this way. Something like "Islanders" probably would not be repeated by the more-cosmopolitan LEGO of today.
    • Only a few years later, LEGO did something similar to expand their "Wild West" series, this time with "Indians," because what is The Lone Ranger without Tonto? These sets were indeed full of Tipis and Totem Poles, but it seemed at least some research went into them, and Plains Indians were treated with a bit more sensitivity than "Islanders." Maybe LEGO had begun to learn a lesson.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed III thoroughly averts this trope by not only having a half-British/half-Native American protagonist, but the Mohawk tribe's culture and language are accurately represented in the game.
  • One of Bomb Chicken's most common enemies is a very stereotypical version of the "savage native."
  • The Crash Bandicoot series have the tribesmen of N. Sanity Island, who worship various monoliths and attempt to capture and/or eat anything that entered their territory. They are led by Papu Papu, an obese chieftain who wears a grass skirt and has his hair tied up in an elaborate tribal mask/headdress.
  • A curious in-universe case for the Huana of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. They are not this trope — their capital is a large, cosmopolitan city, and their ships are as loaded with cannon as any in the Deadfire Archipelago. However, the Vailian and Rautai trading companies looking to pillage their lands see them as being this, to their great annoyance.
  • Pizza Tower has enemies known as Tribal Cheese that are featured in Western-themed levels. They wear feathers on their heads and throw tomahawks when approached, while some will perform rain dances to summon stormclouds as obstacles.

    Western Animation 
  • The Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "Heart of Parkness" features a group of raccoons styled after this trope, complete with face paint, head dressings and a chief that speaks entirely in "crazy woodland gibberish".
  • Occasionally seen in Looney Tunes:
  • The natives of Brainania in Pinky and the Brain are sort of half this: They wear leather tunics and wield stone spears, worship a volcano god, and claim to be cannibals and head-shrinkers. They also speak perfect English with Australian accentsnote  and are totally unimpressed with Brain's "magic" technology, though they do accept Pinky as an emissary from the volcano god when he shows how he can blow bubbles with his spit.
  • In Recess, the kindergarteners are like this.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle features such stereotypical Indians in the story arc, "Bumbling Bros. Circus"; the rain dancers capture Rocky and Bullwinkle and attempt to burn them at the stake to please the Great Spirit. However, Bullwinkle's humming comb gives them dance fever, and they literally dance up a storm, putting out the flames. When the tribe realizes who the real good guys are, they name Rocky and Bullwinkle honorary chiefs, and make peace with the circus with a peace pipe.
  • Played with on Taz-Mania, where Francis X. Bushlad and the rest of the Mud People all speak in thick "Prep" accents.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: The trope is mocked at the start of the fourteenth episode, when Chris' younger brother disguises as a stereotypical Native American and refuses to drop the knife he grabbed from the kitchen because "an indian chief never goes anywhere without his dagger". Chris sternly says that daggers were never used by them; his brother keeps his ignorance going when he says he saw them use daggers in movies, as well as rifles. As Chris correctly explains, Native Americans didn't use any metal-made weapons until the arrival of European explorers. Cue them consulting the expedition book of their late grandfather to learn more about the weapons actually used by Native Americans (as well as the many native groups that inhabited the southwestern area of the USA back then, such as the Anasazi).
  • On Timon & Pumbaa, there's a tribe of masked natives that kidnap Pumbaa and make him their king. Subverted when at the end they take off their masks, revealing them to be urbane yuppies with preppy American accents on some sort of corporate retreat.
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster, Babs and Hamton are stuck on an island and chased by natives. Animated Actors is invoked at one point, where Buster says, "Look, there are some naivetes," and Babs points out that it's a typo in the script, at which point Buster screams and runs away.
  • In-Universe example from Yin Yang Yo!. When the heroes are transported into a King Kong-like film, they're quick to mock the natives' outdated appearance.


Video Example(s):


Indy escapes from the Natives

The Hovitos have sided with Belloq and they are not happy with Indy for stealing their golden idol.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ChasedByAngryNatives

Media sources: