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Indians. Native Americans. First Nations. Ikce wicasa. Whatever you call them, they've entered American fiction as an archetype. In general, this may apply to any "primitive" human society. However, by the nature of their ethnicity, they are given superhuman powers. These typically include animal telepathy, controlling the weather, being able to survive any climate with minimal clothing and equally minimal discomfort, speaking to ghosts, being able to run fast, and transforming into animals, as well as the ability to immediately understand any indigenous lanugage and understand herbal and other alternative medicines; it is not rare for a Cheyenne in Venezuela to speak Yanomamo.
Our hero may (and often does) angst about his people's past, his struggles with alcoholism, the horrors of war, etc.; a good case will even make it so that he is in fact handicapped by the Western cultural milieu. A really good case will give him a mental illness of some kind. Clothing ranges from traditional Braids, Beads, and Buckskins to, for men at least, shirtlessness, wearing just a loincloth, or total nudity, but he absolutely must have long hair. Finally, his ethnicity may be otherwise plot-relevant. In a science fiction setting, his people may have been visited by aliens.
And yes, the implications are quite unfortunate.
Often, there will be a character who is part-Indian, part-something else (usually white). This person will usually self-identify as a member of "the other race," sometimes even when he or she is around other Indians. This character will usually not experience racial prejudice even if his or her true identity is uncovered, since for some reason mixing with Indians has never been considered as scandalous as mixing with Africans or Asians. (This is probably because Native Americans have always been considered "natural" and "American," as opposed to the more "foreign" nonwhite peoples. .) However, if this character does experience or witness anti-Indian prejudice, expect him or her to Go Native.
Anime and Manga
- The Patch Tribe in Shaman King exemplify this trope.
- The Mimiba people in The Five Star Stories appear to have a culture that is a cross between Native Americans & stereotypical portrayals of Ninja. While not overly mystical, they are physically superior to most humans aside from those with inherited genetic enhancements (Headdliners). Their empathy with nature simply comes from a combination of Super Senses & learning from an early age to pay attention to their environment.
- In episode three of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, Rei meets one of the engineers that made the titular aircraft. He's unmistakably Native American, but he's nothing really special; even his name is a nondescript Tom John. He tells about how he is a bit of coward even when he's raised in a Proud Warrior Race Guy tribe, and actually having a plutonium-powered artificial heart (which he lamentedly admits giving him problems since he wouldn't be accepted in several countries due to his heart). By the end of the episode, he's revealed to be a JAM copy, and his original died, yet he possesses so much personality of the original that he decides to perform a Heroic Sacrifice rather than letting him be a threat to other humans. A noteworthy thing is, aside from Rei's Commanding Officer and his own aircraft, Tom John is the only other person Rei has shown emotions to.
- Mortal Kombat parodies this trope with Nightwolf: All of his moves are stereotypes to some degree, and in the 1.0 version, he could run faster than the guy he just threw.
- In Prey, you play as a Native American who worked in a bar before the alien invasion. He at first disbelives his grandfather's talk of magical Indian powers, but is proven wrong when you first do the spirit walk. Apparently, Indians can't die. They just go somewhere, shoot red and blue monsters for a few seconds, and come back perfectly healthy.
- Gargoyles sort of zig-zags on this one: it includes a few of the typical "you're magic, get closer to your roots" versions of this trope during the World Tour arc, but then, in this world All Myths Are True and it does the same thing for plenty of other cultures. Also, the main human character is half-Indian (and half-black), yet has a decidedly non-stereotypical job as a detective in the New York City Police Department.