Whether its a sports mascot or a character in a children's book, there are many similarities. Here's UIUC's now-officially-discontinued "chief illiniwek":
One of the people doing the research on effect of these images is Stephanie Fryberg at the University of Arizona. She was on our campus yesterday giving a lecture wherein she presented some of her research findings.
Its quite frightening. I'm not being alarmist or dramatic. Her research is compelling. There are consequences for all children exposed to stereotypical images of American Indians.
If you'd like a copy of her most recent publication, write to me and I'll send it to you. It appeared in BASIC AND APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY in 2008, and is titled "Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots," by Stephanie Fryberg, Hazel Rose Markus, Daphna Oyserman and Joseph M. Stone.
Here's the abstract:
Four studies examined the consequences of American Indian mascots and other prevalent representations of American Indians on aspects of the self-concept for American Indian students. When exposed to Chief Wahoo, Chief Illinwek,
Pocahontas, or other common American Indian images, American Indian students generated positive associations (Study 1, high school) but reported depressed state self-esteem (Study 2, high school), and community worth (Study 3, high school), and fewer achievement-related possible selves (Study 4, college). We suggest that American Indian mascots are harmful because they remind American Indians of the limited ways others see them and, in this way, constrain how they can see themselves.
In the study, they showed high school students images of
If you'd like me to send you the article, write to me at debreese at illinois dot edu.