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Injun Country

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At least they spelled it right.

"...the god promised that if she stayed with him in the cave he'd forgive her people, and protect and enchant their land until the end of time. So she agreed to live with the god in the waterfall and became Maid of the Mist. And thanks to the princess, Niagara has remained an enchanted wonderland, despite hundreds of years of commercial development."
Jaye, Wonderfalls

This is a Setting that broadly covers the locations where Indigenous Americans (also First Nations) can be found. Has nothing to do with the actual country of India although works set during The Raj sometimes have a similar dynamic with hinterland India.

Unlike other settings, there is no common physical aspect to this trope, as Real Life Indigenous Americans are diverse groups that have lived in a variety of places, such as the lush forests of the Northeast, the Appalachian Highlands, and The Other Rainforest; the swamps of the Deep South; the semi-arid flatlands of the Great Plains; and the deserts and intermontane plateaus of the west. Instead, Injun Country as used in media is a state of mind — a place where the normal rules of the Civilized World do not apply, broached only by those daring enough to venture into the unknown.

The characterization of Injun Country has changed over the years. It began as a staple of The Western and tabloid entertainment, where American expansion brought white settlers into conflict with natives in The Wild West. In these works, the Native Americans were depicted as Hollywood Natives or bloodthirsty savages, with a "primitive" lifestyle and the ever-present threat of a scalping. Sympathetic Indigenous characters were almost always honorable brave collaborators with whites, while "Half-Breed" characters could go either way.

Today's portrayals of Injun Country have changed due to Values Dissonance. While the landscape remains the same, frequently such modern works will depict the natives as earthy Noble Savages or Magical Native Americans who lived in an Edenic utopia before the White Man's arrival tore it all down. Though the Natives usually remained a threat to the heroes, they also acknowledge the injustices of the settlers.

An emerging variation can also be seen in present-day works set on modern native reservations, which are often shown as an awkward mix of lavish casinos and abject poverty. The contrast has become fodder for comedy and satire, and also leading to new character types, such as opportunistic Indian hucksters dazzling gullible visitors with fake rituals and spurious wisdom.

A supertrope to Tipis and Totem Poles. Depending on the work, may overlap with Settling the Frontier, The Wild West, Hollywood Natives, The Savage Indian, and Magical Native American. For the Arctic equivalent, see Eskimo Land.


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    Anime And Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In one American Eagle story, the local authorities deny the investigation of the Desert Stars, the state superteam of Arizona, going so far as to say, "Yep, and you ain't in Arizona no more. This here's the Navajo nation, son." There's also the time Billy Lame Deer found Cobalt Man armor and took a casino hostage, asking for whiskey...
  • Little Plum is a comic strip in the British Anthology Comic The Beano is set in injun country with the strip mainly being about a young indian boy from the smellyfoot tribe. It is full of indian stereotypes and all the indian characters speak broken english which consists of normal english but with the word the being replaced with um.
  • Jeremiah: In a twist, the surviving Native American tribes managed to create functioning nation-states with their own military to police and sometimes conduct raids against white nearby settlements.
  • Oum Pah Pah, considered a prototypical version of Asterix (which the same writer and artist team would later create), is about a tribe of this kind battling against white invaders with Zerg Rush tactics (similar to how the Gauls fight the Romans in Asterix).
    • Later in Asterix as well, in "The Great Crossing".
  • The Saint of Killers' backstory in Preacher involves him rescuing a young woman from Injun Country. When she tells him about the horrible things they did, he tells her bluntly that they learned it from the whites. While in reality Native American tribes were no strangers to brutality, they did learn scalping from Europeans during the French and Indian War.
  • Scalped is set in the criminal underworld of a fictional Lakota Souix reservation in South Dakota, with the town's mob boss setting up a new casino.

    Films — Animated 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Tiger the cat gets randomly kidnapped by Native American mice when he wanders into their territory, and they prepare to roast him alive. But, when they see his resemblance to a nearby mountain, they start worshipping him as a god.
  • An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island has a group of Lenape mice who fled underground when the Europeans came, and live in caves beneath the city.
  • Peter Pan portrays Injun Country as dangerous, but ultimately the Indians are more sympathetic than the dastardly white pirates. The Indians have both teepees and totem poles, but they are part of a Magical Land to begin with.
  • Pocahontas is part of the modern wave of portraying an idealized version of Indian society. This isn't as bad as it could have been, since other than the title character they are exactly as quick to violence as the colonists, as in they both launch their sneak attacks on the other at the same time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film 3:10 to Yuma (2007), the party passes through Injun Country and gets attacked at night by some fairly stereotypical braves, who are barely visible in the darkness.
  • At one point in 7 Men from Now, Stride, Greer and Annie are stopped by a US Army detail, whose commanding officer tells them to go back, as Chiricahua Apache have been spotted in the area and he cannot guarantee their safety.
  • In Appaloosa, the heroes chase the villains into Injun Country. When they're all attacked by a war band, the white folks all agree to a truce until they get out of Injun Country.
  • The Big Trail, starring a young John Wayne, centers on a settler's wagon train that has to make it through Injun Country. In one scene Wayne talks the train past a band of Cheyenne by promising not to settle in their territory (they're headed for Oregon). In another scene the train isn't so lucky, and they have to circle the wagons and fend off another band of Indians.
  • The Canadian film Black Robe is set in a refreshingly unromanticized (and undemonized) perception of what's now Ontario and Quebec. No Colours Of The Wind, no squaw gettum firewood: just Huron guys dying of smallpox, Iroquois guys eating Algonquin guys, and French guys talking about a Jewish guy who was crucified but came back.
  • Blueberry (aka Renegade) features a white lawman who was adopted into an Indian tribe in his youth. He lives with one foot in his white frontier town and one foot in Injun Country. Indians are portrayed as wise and mystical people whose knowledge of hallucinogens ultimately allows the hero to achieve a climactic epiphany.
  • The train in Breakheart Pass is headed into a region that is being plagued by the renegade White Hand and his braves.
  • Hilariously lampooned in Cannibal! The Musical, where Alfred Packer and his party pass through a Ute settlement. All of the Native Americans are played by Japanese actors. There's even a scene showing the tribal warriors practicing their katas in front of teepees made from Japanese flags. The chief points out all the stereotypical aspects of their camp and dress to try to convince the whites that they're genuine.
  • The Indians are a background threat through most Canyon Passage, with rumours of attacks and deaths filtering in to town. Then Bragg provokes them into a full-scale uprising. Interestingly, early on Dance observes that the land was originally the Indians' and that folks would do well to remember that in their dealings with them: an enlightened sentiment for both the time the movie is set and the time it was made.
  • In The Charge at Feather River, the Cheyenne are on the warpath due to the incursion of the railroad into their lands. Archer and the Guardhouse Brigade have to infiltrate deep into Cheyenne territory to rescue two white women being held prisoner by the Cheyenne.
  • Dances with Wolves has both extreme flavors of the trope. The Pawnee tribe is purely malevolent, slaughtering a harmless white man for entering their land. The Lakota tribe, however, are proud, noble, far superior to the madness of white society, and tragically doomed. Many Lakota were not happy about being portrayed as helpless innocents in need of a Mighty Whitey while the Pawnee were offended for being portrayed as Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man is a thoroughly modern take on Injun Country, portraying the madness of white industrialism encroaching into the American Frontier. The main character's train passes the tipis and bison of the Great Plains to arrive somewhere in the American Northwest. The hero is never in any danger from Indians, and in the end, he arrives at a Makah village, which looks very different from the stereotypical tipi camp.
  • The movies based on the stories of Karl May (see under literature) were little better in that regard. Being shot in Croatia did little to help. The DEFA Westerns inspired by the West-German Karl May movies at least tried to portray real historic characters and events, but were not shot anywhere close to the real US either, for obvious reasons.note 
  • In Fort Apache the very reason for the fort's existence is to keep in check the unruly Apache populace.
  • In Fort Massacre, Sgt. Vinson has to lead his men through 100 miles of Apache territory to reach the safety of Fort Crane.
  • In Go West, Young Lady, the tribe outside of Headstone is in cahoots with Killer Pete and his gang.
  • The Iron Horse involves the people building the Transcontinental Railroad struggling to fight off attacks from the Cheyenne—who are struggling to destroy something that is a mortal threat to their way of life.
  • Johnny Reno: Stone Junction is located inside Indian Territory. That makes the murder of an Indian inside town limits serious business, as it becomes a Federal case.
  • Played for laughs in Lightning Jack, where the title character is chased by angry natives after an attempt to negotiate fail. The leader stops pursuit almost immediately since even he isn't sure what the issue is; when we finally get subtitles it turns out that Jack, who speaks a bit of several native languages but isn't fluent in the local one, had unknowingly spouted complete gibberish that one of the warriors interpreted as name-calling. The rest of the band just laugh at the guy and leave the heroes alone.
  • In Lust for Gold, Pedro Peralta and his miners are massacred by the Apaches for mining on Apache sacred ground.
  • In The Man from Laramie, the dangerous Apaches attacked a cavalry troop with repeating rifles sold to them by a white man. At the end, they kill Vic for not delivering the rifles.
  • In Mans Favorite Sport (in 1964, no less) included an Indian huckster, John Screaming Eagle.
  • Maverick subverts the classic Wild West Injun Country. Maverick's Indian friend is a sly, greedy conman who helps Maverick pull a trick on his companions and bilks money from a wealthy white hunter, who wants the Indians to behave like they do in the books. He also remarks that while they tend to choose nice spots they've only been in the current location a short while after being forcefully removed from their actual home territory, and if it happens again they're settling in a swamp in the hopes people will leave them the hell alone.
  • In My Little Chickadee, a train passing through Injun Country gets attacked by stereotypical Indian braves on horseback. Mae West makes wisecracks as she guns a few down from a cabin window.
  • In The New World, the Virginian Powhatan tribe is portrayed, and they are much different from the standard Great Plains stereotype. Though ominous and warlike at first, they enjoy a much more favorable portrayal then the initial white settlers. The Powhatan are shown to be clean, fit, and prosperous, while the English fort is filthy and filled with sick, hideous, mean people. As the film goes on, however, Pocahontas learns to appreciate English culture as well, and she is enchanted by England when she visits it.
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales takes place in a revisionist Injun Country. The primary conflict is between white soldiers on opposite sides of the Civil War. Josey acquires an Indian companion who grouses about the white man but also subverts various stereotypes. While holed up in a ranch house that has been fortified against Indian attack, Josey has a heart-to-heart with the honorable chief of the local tribe to avoid a conflict with them.
  • In The Outlaws IS Coming!, Big Bad Rance Rodan's plan is to wipe out all the buffalo and force the Indian tribes to go on the warpath.
  • Prey (2022) drops a Predator into the Great Plains in 1719, where he takes on a Comanche hunting party.
  • Revenge of the Virgins: When white settlers start to move in on their sacred grounds, a tribe of female Indians vow to do anything they can to stop them.
  • Rocky Mountain: In California during the Civil War, a Confederate patrol and a Union troop must set their differences aside in order to survive a Shoshone attack.
  • In Seven Ways from Sundown, Seven and Flood are attacked by Apaches after they stray on to Apache sacred lands.
  • In Shotgun (1955), Clay, Abby and Reb chase Thompson and his gang deep into Apache territory, where they are confronted by Delgadito and band of renegade warriors.
  • The films Smoke Signals and The Business Of Fancy Dancing are insider views of present-day Indian reservations, and examine the issues that modern Native Americans face. Both films were written, and the latter directed, by Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene author, screenwriter, and poet.
  • In Stagecoach, the stagecoach enters Apache country and must ultimately flee from a swarm of angry Apaches giving chase.
  • Much of Tumbleweed takes place in Yaqui territory where the chief Aguila has declared war on all white men.
  • Parodied in the western comedy The Villain; there's a literal white line drawn across the desert, and when some pursuing Indians reach it, they screech to a stop; the one guy who tumbles across hurriedly scrambles back.
    • And, it's Indian county.

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ends with our protagonist announcing that it is his intention to move out here and have a hollerin' good time with the Injuns. In the TV series The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he actually ends up in India.
  • The American poet and author Sherman Alexie is known for using (and often deconstructing) this setting. Incidentally, he grew up on a reservation. He's Spokane-Coeur d'Alene.
  • This concept runs throughout the novel The Alienist.
  • Around the World in 80 Days uses the first characterization: On their way to New York our heroes' train is ambushed by a considerable number of Sioux. This is likely because Verne preferred to run with popular -if unflattering- stereotypes, possibly as satire.
  • Ben Snow: In "The Valley of Arrows", Ben solves a murder committed inside a fort besieged by 500 Navajo.
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy features white American bounty hunters venturing into Mexican lands to kill the Native Americans and Mexican settlers they find there. The first band, led by Captain White, gets slaughtered by a large and militant band of Native Americans, but the second band, led by Glanton and the judge, carves a bloody path through injun country.
  • The trope was to a large extent first codified in the The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper which stress how much the Indians - both "heroic" and "villainous" ones are attuned to their environment. Although his writings may not be to the tastes of many modern readers, they were very progressive for the time and earned Cooper a lot of hate e. g. from politicians who then set in motion the displacement of Native Americans from their home. The popularity of Mark Twain's attempt at literary patricide, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," did not help.
  • "Captitivity Narratives" featuring white Puritan girls getting captured by Indians and forced to live with them were popular between the 17th and 19th centuries. The archetypical example would be A Narrative Of The Captivity And Restoration Of Mrs Mary Rowlandson, a true, autobiographical story.
  • The works of 19th century writer Karl May are the uber-example of this trope for anyone who learned to read in German as a kid. Despite never having been to the then still Wild West himself,note  he wrote vivid first-person accounts of "his" encounters with Noble Savage Apache Winnetou.
  • Similarly, British writer J.T. Edson wrote over a hundred potboiler western novels. It was only revealed after his death that the prolific author was a civil servant from Surrey who'd never visited North America in his lifetime.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet series has a back-story involving an Indian tribe buying the Middlesborough Transporter Bridge and re-erecting it in the desert as an attraction for their casino. Of course, our heroes get the job ... It Makes Sense in Context
  • Bomb Patrol Afghanistan: Valid arguments can be made that this bomb squad is operating in a modern (21st century / post-9/11) version of this trope. They are definitely in a land inhabited by hostile natives.
  • In Deadwood, the camp is illegally built on Sioux territory, causing conflict with the local tribesmen. The trope is essentially a Reconstruction of its original role in Westerns. The Sioux are largely just the faceless Threat From Without, and are seen committing random raids and murders. At one point, Bullock gets into a mano-a-mano with a Proud Warrior Race Guy who thought shooting him would be too easy.
  • Being about a travelling circus on the American frontier, Frontier Circus often takes place in Indian country. The Indians are often painted as a vague background threat, with the encounters with the tribes being hostile or friendly as the plot demands.
  • F Troop was almost ahead of its time on this trope, portraying the Hekawi tribe as a harmless group of schemers who are solely interested in making business deals with white settlers. Much of the characterization of the tribe is actually based around Yiddish comedy, to the point that the show teases the myth that they're the lost 13th tribe of Israel.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had an episode where the family went to a casino; Malcolm got in trouble for card-counting for his father.
  • In Parks and Recreation, Pawnee was founded in Injun Country. Many of the flagrantly politically incorrect murals in city hall depict the brutal confrontations between the settlers and the Indians (mostly slaughters and warcrimes committed against the Wamapoke).
    • In one episode, the tribal chief objects to the massive fair Leslie is trying to organize because it takes place on the site of one such massacre. The two of them actually have a lot of mutual respect and a friendly relationship, and while she's sympathetic to his point she argues there's nowhere else to hold it (and few places in the town were not the site of massacres). He stirs up a scandal that could tank the fair with the threat of an Indian curse while privately laughing about how white people always fall for that kind of nonsense. In the end, they reach a compromise by putting an exhibit about the tribe's history (and ads for their modern casino) right at the entrance to the fair, where everybody will have to walk through it first.
  • Reservation Dogs is a dramedy series mostly set on a Native reservation in rural Oklahoma.
  • In The Sopranos, Tony Soprano visits an Indian casino that is owned and run by a shady white businessman with perhaps a drop of Indian ancestry.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Journey's End", Wesley Crusher gets superpowers over time and space while the main cast is busy forcing the tribe of Written By White Men to resettle on another planet because their current one was given away in a treaty to some pale-skinned aliens.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", Charlie, a member of Chris Horn's wagon train in 1847, is worried about being attacked by the Apache as the expedition is approaching their territory.
  • Wonderfalls takes place at Niagara Falls, which is either in or near near Injun Country. Much mockery is made over the myth of the "Maid of the Mist", which is regarded as a wholly white invention to support the Niagara Falls tourism. One episode takes place on a reservation, but all of the natives shown are portrayed as normal everyday people. Jaye even tries to poke one into becoming more of a stereotypical magical shaman, but it turns out he cannot fight his accountant ways.
  • The X-Files episode "Shapes" is set on an Indian reservation whose elders complain about people turning away from their old beliefs. An Indian Reservation in Montana that looks a lot more like the west coast of British Columbia. Thankfully, the native people shown avert both the Noble Savage and Casino Indian stereotypes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • You guessed it. Deadlands. No matter what setting, there are "Indians" around. In the original Weird Western setting, Native Americans have carved not one, but two sovereign nations out of American soil. By the time Deadlands: Hell on Earth rolls around, the "Coyote Confederation" is a defunct wasteland, while the "Sioux Nations" remains one of the few pleasant places anywhere on the planet. Deadlands: Lost Colony, as a Space Western, uses the native sentient beings of planet Banshee as ersatz Indians.
  • Shadowrun has the extreme example, with the return of magic to the world allowing Amerindians to (re)take the western half of the continent. The new nations vary wildly; some of have become high-tech powerhouses, while others sink ever-further into squalor and decay.
  • Wherever the Wendigo werewolf tribe hangs out in Werewolf: The Apocalypse (especially the Wild West setting). The more militant ones are still mightily pissed off at the European werewolves who moved in with roughly the same beliefs as the normal humans regarding the New World (they also released the Eater of Souls by accident, but water under the bridge, eh?).

  • The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Cree playwright Tomson Highway; also his novel Kiss of the Fur Queen.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed III has a half-British/half-Mohawk protagonist who gets himself caught up in The American Revolution. He's also from a village known as Kanatahséton, located in upstate New York which was then a part of the American frontier.
  • Gun features Blackfoot and Apache natives as antagonists/sympathetic allies/victims in need of saving. The protagonist, Colton Reed, is half-white, half-native.
  • Mario Kart: Super Circuit: Sunset Wilds is set on a Native American reservation, with totem poles and tipis found throughout the center of the track. When running into a tipi, a Shy Guy will latch onto a driver and rob them of their coins. In the Japanese version, the Shy Guys are also seen wearing headdresses.
  • Prey (2006) stars a badass Indian protagonist who doesn't believe in his tribe's teachings, but with the help of a near-death experience and a spirit journey to his grandfather gains the ability to escape his worldly body and cheat death.
  • Turok is a time-travelling Native American who hunts the most dangerous game — no, not that one — dinosaurs.

    Western Animation 
  • The Beatles visit an Indian village in the episode "Little Child" and get captured by said child. She doesn't know they're the Beatles until her brother tells her.
  • Ben 10 visited a rather archaic-looking reservation in "Benwolf."
  • One episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers features an Indian reservation as a setting for one episode, highlighting some problems that a few reservations face. (Land not suitable for farming cash crops leading to low development) Looten Plunder tries to irrigate it, and does give the residents paying jobs, but didn't quite think it through, resulting in environmental damage. By the end of the episode, the natives go back to farming, but they farm crops that are native to the territory and set up wind turbines.
  • Drawn Together has a bunch of Indian ghosts building an absurdly huge casino in the house's backyard. Captain Hero and Spanky Ham start making money with fraudulent bets, while Foxxy Love and Princess Clara start a strip club in the house.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter pulls into an Indian casino as an emergency rest stop, and while he's in the restroom, Lois gambles away the family car. Peter must then try and convince the operators he's a member of the tribe, in order to participate in the tribal profit-sharing, and get the car back.
  • On King of the Hill, John Redcorn won a long lawsuit to return to him a portion of his tribal land as a reservation. It's about 12 acres, situated next to a busy freeway. In a later episode, he opens a casino on the property to give his band a place to perform, only to be informed by the authorities that Texas doesn't have Indian gaming.
  • The last real Looney Tunes short ever made, "Injun Trouble", was mostly set here, with the last part taking place in an old western saloon.
    • Earlier than that were cartoons such as "Sioux Me," "A Feather In His Hare," "Scalp Trouble" and the original "Injun Trouble" (the last two remade as "Slightly Daffy" and "Wagon Heels").
  • One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic featured the Great Plains flavor of Injun Country, complete with teepees, feathered headdresses, and a tribe of nature-loving Noble Savage buffalo who come into conflict with the local town of Wild West ponies.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart had a "vision quest" at an Indian casino. And Marge lost twenty thousand dollars.
  • South Park features a nearby Indian reservation. In one episode, Cartman finds out that a local Indian man had slept with his mother and visits the reservation to speak with him. Another episode lampoons the New Agey makeover of Indian culture. The owner of an alternative medicine shop exalts the virtues of natural medicine developed by local Indian tribesmen. It turns out that the cures are useless shams, and the "Indians" were just Mexicans anyway. The episode "Red Man's Greed" features the local tribe opening an Indian casino and trying to wipe out the white townsfolk with blankets infected with SARS. Stan cures the townsfolk by going on a vision quest and rediscovering the traditional medicines of his people: DayQuil, chicken noodle soup, and Sprite.
  • Tom Terrific and Manfred travel back to the old west to help a prospector to the California gold rush in the story arc "Go West, Young Manfred." They're ambushed by Indians who take Manfred as their own after his wild dance of pain (from being grazed in the fanny by cacti) impresses them.