Quote: On the “Rubber Tree People”

According to the official Star Trek: Voyager episode guide, Chakotay’s people and their cousins, the Rubber Tree People, are supposedly descendant of “(pre)Mayans.” Yet Chakotay’s culture, as portrayed in the series, provides a perfect example of the generic “Indian” culture found in early American newspapers, where many individual cultures were merged into a single “Indian” culture. 

The first season saw Chakotay practicing a very Hollywood version of Plains-culture religion, when he used a “medicine bundle” and a high-tech device that acted like instant peyote to summon his “spirit guide”. Additionally, Chakotay possessed a “personal medicine wheel” that resembled a stylized compass and supposedly promoted self-healing. 

In an episode titled “Cathexis”, Chakotay uses his “Indian” powers of the “medicine wheel” to help the crew, thus becoming the “good Indian” in the classic Pocahontas sense. 

Sierra S. Adare, Indian Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations Voices Speak Out (2005)

All these “Indian” trappings are as much a Euro-American fantasy of First Nations cultures as the 1760 account of the Mohawk cannibal…

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