Peter Pan contains many allusions and references to real-life places and historical myths that help ground a magical story in reality. For example, the author references the Kensington Gardens when the Darlings meet Nana in Chapter 1: "this nurse was a prim Newfoundland dog, called Nana [...] the Darlings had become acquainted with her in Kensington Gardens." Another example of historical references include those to North American "Indians" or Native Americans, which resemble Tiger Lily's tribe in Neverland. Hook calls them "redskins" (which is now known as a racial slur). The story also references tomahawks (a type of axe or hatchet used by Native Americans) and tom-toms (cylindrical drums associated with Native American culture). It is important to note the largely negative and degrading caricatures of Tiger Lily and her father, the chief of her tribe. There is also an incredibly racist passage in Chapter 10:
“The great white father,” he would say to them in a very lordly manner, as they grovelled at his feet, “is glad to see the Piccaninny warriors protecting his wigwam from the pirates.”
The so-called "savages" call Peter Pan their "Great White Father" because he saved Tiger Lily "from a dreadful fate." They display unwavering loyalty to Peter, who in turn has shown great bravery in rescuing the princess of their tribe. However, the many unsavory nicknames and racist caricatures of these characters make evident Europe's general lack of respect and understanding of Native Americans (or any indigenous tribe in the developing world).
Other references arise throughout the text to mermaid lore, fairy stories, and Greek mythology; the name Peter Pan subtly refers to the Greek god Pan, a half-goat half-man who rules over nature and the wilderness. These landmarks and cultural references ground an otherwise fantastical story in reality. The troubling presence of racism can be explained by the text's historical time period, and careful readers should be able to identify these scenes with a critical eye while still maintaining an appreciation for the other themes, scenes, and overall quality of the novel.