native american, american indian, decolonization, colonialism, SEO, search engine optimization, post-colonial, indigenous, racism, race
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine auto-fill features allows us to see how people search online, and the words they use, in real-time. Anonymous querying equates to anonymity, and by nature when we input key words or key phrases in search engines like Google we use succinct, brief, and to-the-point queries. What does this mean for how we search for Native American or “Indian” results? A 2019 SEO and keyword/phrase analysis revealed that the notorious “wise Indian trope” (similar to the “magical negro” trope) is still very prevalent today, particularly when comparing the keyword “wise” paired with non-Native races. This paper directly compares results of the keyword “wise” and its variants within various iterations of “Native American” alongside other races around the world using SEO and autofill. The findings show that while there has been a strong push towards de-colonization in recent years seemingly beyond Native populations, the “white messiahs” of the past may have simply transitioned to a role of a “white alliah” at best. It can be surmised that Native Americans do not make up the majority searching for “wise Indian” results or its variants on search engines, which leads us to deduce that non-Natives still see (and query) Native Americans through a post-Colonial lens.
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"White ‘Alliahs:’ The Creation & Perpetuation of the ‘Wise Indian’ Trope,"
PSU McNair Scholars Online Journal:
1, Article 3.