Seeing Red

A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers

Mark Cronlund Anderson (Author), Carmen L. Robertson (Author)

The first book to examine the role of Canada’s newspapers in perpetuating the myth of Native inferiority.

Seeing Red is a groundbreaking study of how Canadian English-language newspapers have portrayed Aboriginal peoples from 1869 to the present day. It assesses a wide range of publications on topics that include the sale of Rupert’s Land, the signing of Treaty 3, the North-West Rebellion and Louis Riel, the death of Pauline Johnson, the outing of Grey Owl, the discussions surrounding Bill C-31, the “Bended Elbow” standoff at Kenora, Ontario, and the Oka Crisis. The authors uncover overwhelming evidence that the colonial imaginary not only thrives, but dominates depictions of Aboriginal peoples in mainstream newspapers. The colonial constructs ingrained in the news media perpetuate an imagined Native inferiority that contributes significantly to the marginalization of Indigenous people in Canada. That such imagery persists to this day suggests strongly that our country lives in denial, failing to live up to its cultural mosaic boosterism.


  • WINNER of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Scholarly Writing, First Peoples’ Writing, and Regina Book of the Year (2011)


“A wonderfully dense and rich historical work that situates itself equally amongst journalism history, colonial histories in the Americas, and scholarship on representations of minorities and race in Canadian media.

Candis Callison, Canadian Literature

Seeing Red argues that Canadians have little hope of ever truly seeing aboriginal people, much less reconciling with them, as long as the nation’s media continue to construct them in demeaning unidimensional ways.”

Mary-Ellen Kelm, Simon Fraser University, American Historical Review

“This book is hard to read. The negative and condescending view of the press is in your face throughout the pages, sparking a fire in the belly.”

Joyce Atcheson, Wataway News Online

“This is an important work. No one else argues the continuity of racial profiling the way Anderson and Robertson do, and this is an important contribution in a country where we smugly assume that each generation’s portrayal of, and engagement with, Aboriginal people is significantly better than the last.”

– Keith Thor Carlson, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

Seeing Red is a remarkable contribution to this country’s political and social history. It sets a new standard for archival research and critical thinking that hopefully will shake the Canadian media establishment.”

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Winnipeg Free Press

“Mark Cronlund Anderson and Carmen L. Robertson provide a comprehensive and engaging study of the portrayal of Aboriginal peoples in English-language Canadian newspapers. The authors effectively demonstrate how a set of colonial ideas and assumptions about Aboriginal peoples formed, were quickly naturalized, and have continued to occupy a central place in mainstream Canadian newspapers.”

– Matthew H. Tegelberg, Trent University, Canadian Journal of Communication

“In this important, unique study of the imagery of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian newspapers, 1869-2009, Anderson and Robertson effectively argue that colonialism has always thrived in Canada’s press, continuing to the present. Highly recommended.”

– B.F.R. Edwards, Laurentian University, CHOICE

“In this intensely provocative book, University of Regina professors Anderson and Robertson contend that newspapers have played a central role in the Canadian colonial project through their representation of Aboriginal peoples over the past 140 years.”

– Timothy P. Foran, University of Ottawa, Great Plains Quarterly

Seeing Red is a groundbreaking study of how Canadian English-language have portrayed Aboriginal peoples from 1869 to the present day.”

Christine McFarlane, Windspeaker

About the Authors

Mark Cronlund Anderson is the author of four books, including Pancho Villa’s Revolution by Headlines and Cowboy Imperialism and Hollywood Film, which won the 2010 Cawelti Prize for Best Book in American Culture. He is a professor of history at Luther College, University of Regina.

Carmen L. Robertson is a Lakota/Scottish scholar with a joint appointment in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies and the School of Arts and Culture at Carleton University. She also maintains an active curatorial practice. Robertson is the co-author of Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers.

Book Details

  • Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers
  • Mark Cronlund Anderson (Author), Carmen L. Robertson (Author)
  • Published September 2011, 336 pages
  • Paper, ISBN: 9780887557279, 6 × 9, $27.95
  • Topic(s): Film & Media Studies, History, Indigenous Studies

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