Who's painting Indians unfairly?
"Stop trying to the Indians as some 'different' kind of people."Stop trying to paint them as savages, barbarians, and killers a la (your impression of) the Aztecs and Inca.
"They were not tree dancing fairy folk with mystical connections to nature."They weren't world-conquerors a la the Europeans, her quote should help make the point:
The Indian loved to worship. From birth to death, he revered his surroundings. He considered himself born in the luxurious lap of Mother Earth, and no place was to him humble. There was nothing between him and the Big Holy (Wakan Tanka). The contact was immediate and personal, and the blessings of Wakan Tanka flowed over the Indian like rain showered from the sky. Wakan Tanka was not aloof, apart, and ever seeking to quell evil forces. He did not punish the animals and the birds, and likewise, he did not punish man. He was not a punishing god. For there was never a question as to the supremacy of an evil power over and above the power of Good. There was but one ruling power, and that was Good.
--Luther Standing Bear (Oglala Sioux), 1868-1937
"They were just people then, just people now. Just as capable of all the good and all the bad of anyone else on the Earth."
Let me know when the first Indian (other than an Aztec or an Inca) declares himself a supreme power and seeks to bend whole nations to his will a la Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and multitudes of monarchs and popes.