The community of Dulce will be celebrating the 54th Annual Little Beaver Roundup this July. To an outsider this would seem as any other tribal celebration with rodeos, carnivals, parades, and all that other flare. However what they now know is they are celebrating a racist cartoon. Little Beaver is one of the characters in “Red Ryder” comic strip which ran in newspapers from 1938 to 1964.
As you can see in the pic below, Little Beaver talks in pidgin english, which is obviously very stereotypical of Native Americans.
Most of the time Little Beaver is getting into mischief, likely because the author implies he isn’t civilized or intelligent enough to handle most situations. Who is always there to “save” Little Beaver? Red Ryder of course.
Apparently the author thought this was funny that Little Beaver is responsible for spreading Measles, an sickness our ancestors weren’t immune to. I sometimes can’t even believe that I can still find this comic still published in southern Colorado.
I’m not totally against the celebration itself. The powwow alone has been describe as one of the best in the southwest. Other than paying homage to a stereotypical comic book character, why not celebrate something else? We are a sovereign nation and it would be easy to detach from the Red Ryder franchise. If we continue to carry on the name Little Beaver, a fictional character that represents a negative perception of Native Americans, then it shows we are a tribe living in the past.
I personally wonder what other tribes think about the continued use of the name “Little Beaver”?